The third presidential impeachment trial in US history has come to a close, with the Senate voting in favour of an acquittal for President Donald J Trump. President Trump only won by a slim margin however; by four votes on the charge of abuse of power and by six on obstruction of Congress. This slim victory has not fazed the President, who is undoubtedly in good spirits and is using this exoneration as part of his re-election campaign tour.

Since the President’s acquittal on both counts ensures that he will remain in office, at the very least until the next presidential elections, his administration realises that it can now completely focus its energies on remaining in office beyond this first term. The Democrat primaries although in their early stages, have already revealed a few favourites in the lead-up to the next elections and Trump’s traditional politics of confrontation will now need to focus on these candidates individually to secure his voter base. The narrative of the President has not much changed since he came into office – economic development, the lack of trust in ‘establishment’ politics (whatever that really means) and a brasher foreign policy continue to be keystones in the administration’s policy initiatives. Will this be enough to secure a victory against vibrant candidates such as Sanders, Warren or Buttigieg?

The acquittal is by no means an unexpected outcome considering that the Senate was controlled by the Republicans and they had established from the get-go that they would not be sending their own President packing. Many Democrats had both publicly and privately confessed that removing Trump through an impeachment trial would be a hard sell – which is why they delayed filing the impeachment papers. But since removal was not on the cards, what really was the reason behind the impeachment trial?

Many politicians on both sides of the spectrum in the US believe that the President went beyond the powers afforded to his office, and subsequently, the impeachment was a means to remind him not to overstep. But the speeches and media appearances of the President do not reveal any signs of remorse or looking to make his role in the White House more transparent. He is instead using the acquittal as a vindication of his stance and innocence, and looks to be doubling down on attacks against his opponents. In that sense, this trial is not a success for the Democrats, but instead might even have improved Trump’s standing within his own support base.

The second objective, by the looks of it, was to bring this issue in the public eye. By bringing forth witnesses to offer up testimony against the President in the House of Representatives and a trial in the Senate, the democrats were hoping for the public to turn on the President. But as the latest polls after the impeachment trial show, this was also predicated on needless optimism. The President is as popular as ever, he has been emboldened by his exoneration and he looks to be in good spirits on his re-election tour. Did the Democrats really get anything out of this trial?