The Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump ended abruptly Saturday afternoon with a 57-43 vote to acquit the former president of inciting the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Seven GOP senators crossed over and voted with every Democrat to convict him. Yet impeachment rules require a two-thirds vote of the Senate to convict, so Trump’s second impeachment trial ended, like his first, with the former president claiming victory.

Constitutional law scholar John Finn takes a step back from the heat of the trial and asks what the acquittal means for American democracy. His verdict: The U.S. is in a state of “constitutional rot” – and more civic education is needed.

Naomi Schalit

Senior Editor, Politics + Society

The impeachment trial shows American democracy is in bad shape. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Trump’s acquittal is a sign of ‘constitutional rot’ – partisanship overriding principles

John E. Finn, Wesleyan University

The vote to acquit former President Trump for inciting the attack on the Capitol is a symptom of the dramatic decline of the US constitutional system, which is being eroded from within.

Politics + Society