Donald Trump may have escaped conviction, but the fallout could be messy over the next couple of years.
Significantly, of the seven Republican Senators who voted to convict, two are retiring and three are not up for re-election until 2026 when, they will hope, passions will have cooled.
Two are more vulnerable. Lisa Murkowski will seek re-election next year and Mitt Romney will be up before the voters in 2024.
There is a fair chance that Trump supporters will challenge them in the primaries and crossing the former president could prove costly.
Ask Jeff Sessions: when he tried to regain his old Senate seat in Alabama, Trump threw his weight behind Tommy Turbeville, a former football coach.
Poor Sessions, who had infuriated Trump by recusing himself from the Russia investigation, didn’t have a chance.
Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp, is almost certainly in Trump’s sights because of his refusal to overturn the presidential election results.
Trump has already called on Kemp to resign and it is hardly a major leap of the imagination to expect that the former president will support a Republican challenger in next year’s gubernatorial elections.
Members of the House of Representatives are up for re-election every two years and 10 congressmen and women who voted for the impeachment trial to go ahead have good reason to look over their shoulders.
Within days of Liz Cheney, the number three Republican in the House, backing impeachment, Florida’s Matt Gaetz pitched up in her home state of Wyoming.
He addressed hundreds of pro–Trump protesters in Cheyenne.
“We are in a battle for the soul of the Republican party, and I intend to win it,” he said.
“You can help me break a corrupt system. You can send a representative who actually represents you, and you can send Liz Cheney home – back home to Washington, DC.”
It is worth reflecting on the fact that Gaetz thought it worth his while to travel nearly 2575km to undermine somebody who is theoretically a party colleague.
Illinois Republican Adam Kinzinger has learned that a Trump supporter has already filed paperwork to challenge him in a primary.
Even as senators were debating Trump’s fate, firebrand QAnon-supporting congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Green unloaded on Jaime Herrera Beutler.
Not only had Beutler voted to impeach, she also confirmed damaging details of a phone call between Trump and Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy.
Taylor Greene’s threat was hardly subtle, describing her fellow Republican congresswoman as “a gift that keeps on giving to the Democrats”.
She added: “The Trump loyal 75 million are watching.”
It is a warning that could prove prescient.
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