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Local reaction to President Donald Trump’s impeachment acquittal runs the gamut from relief to incredulity.
The U.S. Senate voted Feb. 6 to acquit Trump of both articles of impeachment without hearing from witnesses or requesting documents.
Nash County GOP Chairman Mark Edwards said the lesson to take away from the last two presidential impeachments is that impeachment should only be undertaken if there’s a compelling, overwhelming bipartisan reason.
“It might not be conventional wisdom right now, but I really don’t think the acquittal will have a big impact on the election,” Edwards said. “It has definitely fired up the Republican base, but my observation is that our base is already motivated. From now until November, the job of both parties is to promote candidates and ideas that are attractive to that 20% to 30% in the middle who could vote either way. On that score, I do not believe the impeachment in the House or the acquittal in the Senate helps either party.”
Former Democratic Gov. Jim Hunt had harsh words for Trump.
“I think what the president did to the people of Ukraine is tragic,” Hunt said. “It’s a little country trying to be free of the Russians, and the president turned his back on them.”
The United States has always stood against tyranny, whether it be fascism or communism, Hunt said.
“The president hurt that country by withholding arms it could use to fight for its freedom,” Hunt said. “I deeply regret the president’s actions.”
Bailey resident William Burns said the impeachment trial was a waste of time.
“The House needs to worry about real problems and stop trying to un-elect the president,” Burns said.
Christy Fyle, chairwoman of the Wilson County Republican Party, said impeachment should have never gone as far as a trial.
“A majority of the country was opposed to impeachment,” Fyle said. “I’m glad President Trump can get this behind him.”
Fyle said Democrats impeached Trump because they knew he couldn’t be defeated at the polls.
“The voters in November will decide, as it should be,” Fyle said.
U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, a Wilson Democrat representing the 1st Congressional District, said he hoped the Senate would evaluate all the available evidence.
“Republican senators were unwilling to hear from a single witness or compel any documents to be presented during the Senate trial,” Butterfield said. “The trial was incomplete, and it abruptly ended when Republican senators concluded they didn’t want to know the truth.”
Butterfield said the truth and the Constitution were on trial.
“Senators took a solemn oath to ‘do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws.’ That did not happen,” Butterfield said.
The congressman said history books will show the acquittal severely damaged Congress and prevented future oversight of the executive branch.
“The nation’s founders didn’t believe the president is above the law,” Butterfield said. “They didn’t believe that a president should be able to thumb his nose at the Congress of the United States.”
The Founding Fathers didn’t believe a president should be able to refuse to answer serious charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, Butterfield said.
“With this acquittal, the founders are disappointed, and the majority of Americans who wanted a fair trial are disappointed,” Butterfield said. “The Constitution was dealt a severe blow from this highly partisan acquittal.”
U.S. Rep. Greg Murphy, a Republican from Greenville, represents a large portion of eastern North Carolina. He said the last four months have been divisive and counterproductive.
“Impeachment is finally over, and the president has been rightfully acquitted; the actions of the president did not warrant the charges,” Murphy said. “Congress has been stuck at a standstill for too long. Having been sworn into Congress only a week prior to the beginning of the impeachment inquiry, I am thankful this storm has passed, and I can finally begin the legislative work eastern North Carolinians elected me to do.”
In September, Murphy replaced Walter B. Jones in the 3rd Congressional District after Jones died in office.
“Congress could and should have been working on issues like health care, prescription drugs, border security and more instead of this tiresome and illegitimate impeachment,” Murphy said. “Hopefully, we can finally get back to tending to the business of the people.”