Late afternoon on Wednesday, President Donald Trump made history, yet again. For his role in instigating last Wednesday’s bloody pro-Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol, the House of Representatives voted to impeach this president for the second time in roughly a year, making Trump the only president in American history to get impeached twice.
But for all the historic weight of the day, the Trump White House remained mostly quiet, drained of energy and much of its personnel. The president drifted in and out of the Oval Office, monitored the impeachment process on TV, and found time to award a medal to country singer Toby Keith. But by the time the sun fell on Washington, the president had yet to make a public appearance or emerge to pelt insults at the reporters on the premises. He couldn’t rage tweet about the latest impeachment or the Republicans on Capitol Hill who had gone along with it, because Twitter had already taken his Twitter away. And his staff was a husk compared to what it was just over a week ago, following a series of high-profile resignations from the administration last week and a steep plummet in morale in the building since the riot and death toll. Some West Wing brass, including White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, have spent recent days purposefully keeping a distance from Trump, as various advisers live out the final moments of the era by attempting to avoid triggering the president’s temper or making matters worse, somehow.
While photographers, reporters, and staff gathered at the White House, the president was sealed off by his aides, kept out of sight from the press. Even for Trump’s feel-good, arts medal ceremony held in the East Room, the cameras were barred. A U.S. Marine who kept appearing, then disappearing, at the entrance to the West Wing multiple times. It was practically the only indicator of whereabouts. (The Marine typically stands guard at those doors when the president is in the Oval Office.)
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