President Donald Trump has survived the latest and most serious crisis of his own making. As ever, he seems to have learned nothing from the ordeal.
The Republican-controlled Senate voted today to keep Trump in office. Breaking with his party, Senator Mitt Romney of Utah cast the lone Republican vote convicting Trump of one of the two impeachment articles—abuse of power. The president comes out of the ordeal emboldened, with a free hand to push the boundaries of executive propriety even further.
What’s to stop him? Not contrition. There’s no hint in the life of the 45th president that his own conduct has left him chastened. Trump still believes that his July phone call with Ukraine’s president, in which he pushed for an investigation into his political rival former Vice President Joe Biden, was “perfect.” He’s never apologized for converting his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani into an off-the-books diplomat scrounging for evidence that might discredit the opposition. In Trump’s eyes, today’s Senate acquittal likely validates the notion that he’s been unfairly persecuted.
We’ve been here before. Last year, Trump claimed that the Russia investigation—remember the Russia investigation?—ended in his “complete and total exoneration.” It did not. One day after Special Counsel Robert Mueller explicitly told Congress that he hadn’t cleared Trump of wrongdoing, the president made his ill-fated call to Ukraine, beginning the chain of events that led to impeachment.