Northwest Arkansans react to impeachment trial nearing an end


FILE- In this Jan. 24, 2019, file photo, the U.S. Capitol at sunset in Washington. Republicans have high hopes of using the House drive toward impeaching President Donald Trump to defeat Democrats from swing districts loaded with moderate voters. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — The U.S. Senate’s decision to not subpoena witnesses in the presidential impeachment trial set the path for President Trump’s exoneration. People in Washington County, which was carried by Trump in the 2016 election, reacted to the latest developments.

“The Democrats were not successful in moving things forward, and so Trump and the Republicans, at least for the moment, have a significant victory,” said Hoyt Purvis, professor emeritus at the University of Arkansas.

Impeachment proceedings centered on Trump’s interactions with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. Reports suggest Trump may have pressed the Ukrainian leader to investigate the son of political rival Joe Biden with the stipulation that foreign aid could be withheld depending on the outcome.

Purvis, a political expert, said Trump’s Arkansas base may strengthen after the trial ends.

“He’s carved out a new area and drawn support from many people in the past might’ve been Democrats or Independents,” Purvis said.

Jim Wilson is the Washington County Republican Party chairman. He said he’s seen a swell in support from Trump from fellow Northwest Arkansas party members.

“I’ve certainly been getting more contacts from people interested in trying to put up signs and things of that nature,” Wilson said.

Politico election stats show Trump won Washington County by more than 10 percentage points in 2016. A statement from Gracie Ziegler, the county’s Democratic Women president, said a need for calling witnesses should’ve been a non-partisan issue:

“It’s not a win or lose situation between parties. The President should be held accountable for his actions, and that’s what the House of Representatives did with the impeachment proceedings,” Ziegler said in the statement. “Where members of the Senate have chosen to remain silent by not even allowing testimony from people who were in the room where it happened, that’s where the loss comes. Remaining silent is a loss for the whole country.”

Purvis said the impeachment trial may be coming to an end, but he compared it to the end of a chapter in a long book.

“I don’t think we should fool ourselves into believing everything’s settled now, that we’re gonna drink a glass of milk and go home and go to bed,” Purvis said. “I don’t think it’s gonna happen that way.”

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