WVU Political Science Professor John Kilwein


FAIRMONT — A West Virginia University political scientist said he believes the U.S. House of Representatives has made a solid case for convicting former president Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial.

Trump is on trial this week for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building in which an angry mob beat police with U.S. flags and stormed their way into both chambers of the building. Professor John Kilwein said that if this impeachment is not pursued then what qualifies as an impeachable offense.

“The main thing that everybody has to keep in mind is the impeachment then the subsequent trial, they’re really political activities,” said Kilwein.

He said the video of the riot at the Capitol was pretty dramatic. He said ultimately it’s where we come down to as a society that people are on one side or the other.

“I think people who dislike Trump it just confirms for them what a dangerous person he was and I think for people who are on team Trump they just see it as an unnecessary attack at him after he’s already out,” said Kilwein.

Kilwein said the American public is kind of fickle — even if someone is not on one side or the other he said people were initially upset about what happened on Capitol Hill.

“There’s also that kind of American tradition of wanting to move on and let bygones be bygones. At the end of the day, I think it’s going to be compelling TV and I think that there’s no chance the Republicans are going to convict him,” he said.

Kilwein said Republicans would like this to go away for obvious reasons and many members of the GOP believe the Democrats are merely throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks along with holding up needed the needed COVID-19 relief bill.

“I think that the Senate, and the House too, can handle development of a relief package or rescue package...and still handle this. It’s going to take time. Yeah, they’re going to have to sit there and listen to it but I don’t know that they would have been working that hard on the relief package anyway,” he said.

Kilwein also sees the Democrats moving the impeachment along as quickly as possible because it is necessary.

“He’ll go down in history as the only president who’s ever been impeached twice, and you know he could flip it around and say I was the only president who was ever acquitted twice,” he said.

Given the actions of what happened on Jan. 6, Kilwein said they’re kind of unforgivable. He said he doesn’t know if it would be a good thing to walk away from that and say “well there’s no consequence to it.”

As far as punishment goes, Kilwein said it’s unpunishable as far as a Constitutional impeachment goes, going back to it being political.

“As long as you have your votes you’re protected and so I think the Democrats legitimately wanted to pursue this but I also think every politician is a politician and I think that they thought they could embarrass the Republicans and force them to throw Trump under the bus,” he said.

He said as far as criminal cases go, it’s hard to tell what will come out of the trial. Clearly, direct participants will be prosecuted but they also have openly said they did what they did because the president told them to do it.

“With President Trump, he broke so many norms that it’s entirely possible that you could see a prosecutor who comes out of D.C. or comes out of Northern Virginia in terms of the insurrection who pursues some kind of case which wouldn’t probably have happened in the past,” said Kilwein.

When asked for comment, West Virginia State Senator Mike Caputo, D-13, of Rivesville, said he believes the impeachment is a serious matter.

“I hope that the Senate acts in an impartial manner as jurors should and weighs the evidence and acts accordingly,” he said.

Reach Sarah Marino at 304-367-2549

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