FORT WAYNE – Here are the impacts of the second impeachment of former president Donald John Trump:

1.) Chants of “Kill Mike Pence” from large numbers of conservative rioters, at more than one location, was spine-tingling and chilling. Those who watched it in context will likely never forget it. The absurd anger was scary and ugly. This should have been a wake-up call to every Indiana Republican elected official. Mike Pence had been a loyal ally of President Trump until Trump asked him to directly violate the Constitution. “Hang Mike Pence” could easily become any elected official when confronted by a “hang anybody not 100% with us” mob. Indiana Democrats only need to worry when they become politically relevant again. Democrats in other states, however, should also be worried about the increasing willingness of mobs to be incited by exaggerated political rhetoric. Continued out-of-control rhetoric will have escalating consequences.

2.) Vice President Mike Pence was likely the biggest “winner” from the impeachment trial. It is far too early to say whether he will benefit politically. However, in the eyes of history he will become a legend in the story of the only assault on the Capitol of the United States by Americans. The second highest official in the nation. A man betrayed by his president. Eerily close to potential serious bodily harm. Guardian of free elections. A true profile in courage, not a rhetorical one. Even liberals are likely to give him credit because it makes Trump seem worse.

3.) Nikki Haley’s comments critical of Trump may have been the clearest canary in a coal mine warning to Republican politicians. Haley is generally a cautious politician, who along with Pence is a presidential front-runner for 2024. Her verbal embrace of Pence and condemnation of Trump was aggressive. She doesn’t have a two-year political window but is on a four-year timeline. But it was more than that: “He went down a path he shouldn’t have, and we shouldn’t have followed him, and we shouldn’t have listened to him. And we can’t let that ever happen again.” Pretty clear. But that was just a warm-up. “When I tell you I’m angry, it’s an understatement. I am so disappointed in the fact that (despite) the loyalty and friendship he had with Mike Pence, that he would do that to him. Like, I’m disgusted by it.” Obviously, it was a skilled political move in the sense that Pence is a potential rival and so is Trump, but the political risk and the emotion of the statements suggest that it was a rather deep, longer held position.

4.) Trump’s reported comment to Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy, as McCarthy’s office was under siege – “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are” – was mind-numbingly appalling because it is so typical of his personality. He was calling senators during the riot, not concerned about others, but just himself. Trump defined himself as democracy and America, not the actual institutions. If he is held criminally liable in any way, this type of statement illustrates why.

5.) The House manager’s videos of the rioters, words, timelines and wordless recorded video was the type of video that viewers want because it capitalizes on popular distrust of pontificating media. The video speaks for itself.

6.) The Democrats nevertheless over-reached by not anticipating the counter-punching, or at least they dramatically underestimated it. They left themselves vulnerable for a counter-punch. And it was delivered. They simply did not prepare skeptics enough about the political rhetoric argument. Stressing “fight” as the key word set up the defense. The emotions of the manager’s video overpowered the presumed logic of the severity of event as opposed to using the word in context. You remembered “fight” then saw fighting. For example, had the Democrats showed a video of Bernie Sanders calling for a “fight” and showing no action, it might have helped establish a stronger context. It was the context that was critical to a link: No elected official with a sane mind (I must add) praised the violence that happened. And most politicians used the word “fight” but would have behaved differently in this situation.

7.) The establishment media bias sealed the inability of most Republicans running for election within two years to defect once Trump had an effective defense. The national (i.e. liberal) media’s inability to understand the effectiveness of the Trump counter-attack was an appalling demonstration of bias. They were so vested in believing the anti-Trump position that they could not understand why some Republican skeptics of Trump, but having doubts about the process anyway, now had to deal with this fact: The Democrats were proven, in their own words, to be hypocrites.

8.) Much of America remains dubious that impeachment applies to non-officeholders. The historical defense of that intent was shallow at best. The strained examples of attempted impeachment of lower-level officials were not compelling unless you were focused on finding an excuse to proceed. Impeachment is to remove a threat. Banning a person from holding future office is also pretty sketchy. I don’t hold myself up as a moral example but I cannot avoid pointing out that my skepticism of impeaching Bill Clinton came with intense political pressure. Been there, done this. Impeachment with political motives is becoming just another political gimmick. I have made my personal views on Trump clear from the beginning but count me still as a skeptic on impeachment. (For the record, I honestly do not know how I would have voted. It was more serious than the charges against Clinton – by say, 100-fold to 1,000-fold – but then again, Clinton was still president, which to me seems to be implied in removing someone from office.)

9.) BTW why didn’t the Democrats include a video of Republican statements on the impeachment of Clinton? People, including senators, focused when videos were shown. It would have undermined the predictable coming Republican video. It might have likely been countered by a similar Republican video of Democrats reversing themselves. However, then the fundamental argument of what constitutes an impeachable offense would have been clearer now and for historical purposes. By both parties pretending that they hadn’t switched sides, they made impeachment seem mostly political. And, BTW, why doesn’t the mainstream media ever note the lemming nature of the Democrats – not one has broken with the herd, even on a flip-flop. The obvious reason for media silence is this: The media believes the Democrat position is correct and not deserving of debate, even constitutional arguments of opposition without the media framing the answer. So much for neutral media.

10.) As I concluded in my last column, the Republican future and its ties to Trump are dependent upon some yet unknown variables: Whether Trump collapses financially, whether Biden solidifies opposition by implementing still unpopular extremely liberal policies, and whether the Republicans return to being a party of ideas rather than “the weird worship of one dude.” 

Souder is a former Republican congressman from Indiana.