The end of former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial opens a new chapter for his successor in the White House.
But while President Joe Biden and his team are eager to move past the impeachment, the bitterly partisan tone of the proceedings underscores the deep challenges ahead as the president and his party try to push forward their agenda and address historic crises.
Biden, who was at the Camp David presidential retreat when the Senate voted Saturday to acquit Trump, had acknowledged that Democrats needed to hold the former president responsible for the siege of the U.S. Capitol but did not welcome the way it distracted from his agenda.
The trial ended with every Democrat and seven Republicans voting to convict Trump, but the 57-43 vote was far from the two-third threshold required for conviction. Whether the seven GOP votes against Trump offered Biden any new hope for bipartisan cooperation within Congress remained an open question.
Biden was expected to address the verdict in a written statement to help calm a nation still roiled by four years of Trump's tumult. But then his aides aimed to quickly move on something Democrats said they've been waiting to do for weeks.
Biden made a point of not watching the trial live, choosing to comment only briefly on the searing images of the riot that gripped the nation.
Though his White House publicly argued that the trial did not hinder their plans, aides privately worried that a lengthy proceeding could bog down the Senate and slow the passage of his massive COVID-19 relief bill.
That USD 1.9 trillion proposal is just the first part of a sweeping legislative agenda Biden hopes to pass as he battles the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 480,000 Americans and rattled the nation's economy.
The No. 1 priority for Democrats and the Biden administration is going to be to deliver on the promises that have been made on the pandemic, both on the vaccine front and the economic front, said Democratic strategist Josh Schwerin.
The end of the impeachment trial frees the party to focus on less divisive and more broadly popular issues and policies, like the coronavirus relief package, which polls show has significant support among Americans.
Throughout his campaign, Biden worked to avoid being defined by Trump and his controversies and instead sought to draw a contrast on policy and competence, a guiding principle that he and his aides have carried over into the White House.
His team kept up a steady drumbeat of events during the trial, including an update on vaccine development and Biden's first visit to the Pentagon as commander in chief. With the proceedings on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue now over, the White House plans to increase its efforts to spotlight the fight against the pandemic and push past Trump's chaos.
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