Activist Groups Look to 2020 Election to Oust Donald Trump Following President's Acquittal

With Congress' effort to impeach President Donald Trump in the rearview mirror, liberal activist groups are setting their sights on the ballot box to remove the commander-in-chief from office.

Pivoting from what's been a years' long campaign by some organizations to impeach the president, his acquittal by the Senate on Wednesday is making them concentrate their time and resources toward driving large amounts of people to the polls in November to exact electoral revenge on Trump and on Senate Republicans, who they accuse of operating a whitewash trial without witnesses.

"Our work between now and November is to support the will of Americans and help them remove Donald Trump and those Senate Republicans from office," said Nathaly Arriola, the executive director of Need to Impeach. "Republicans didn't fulfill their constitutional responsibility, but voters will."

The group, which was founded by billionaire and Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer, has long pushed for Trump's impeachment. But they are shifting their focus toward driving people to vote, starting with a $200,000 nationwide ad-buy that will run on CNN and MSNBC starting Thursday evening. Among a coalition of activist organizations that led grassroots impeachment campaigns for months leading up to Trump's acquittal, Need to Impeach will pivot to become Need to Vote, similar to what they did for the 2018 midterms.

"The Republicans tried to cover-up Trump's crimes, but now we're the jury," Kevin Mack, the lead strategist for Need to Impeach, told Newsweek. "We knew that removal was always a long shot... The way we can convict Trump is extremely large numbers in November and remove him from office ourselves."

The Republican-controlled Senate voted to acquit Trump of both the abuse of power and obstruction of Congress charges. The GOP only endured one defector from start to finish of the impeachment process in the House and Senate—Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah—a sign of the loyalty Trump endures from all corners of the party.

The president boasted of his triumph in a miniature acquittal victory lap Thursday, which included remarks at the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., and a roughly hour-long "celebration" speech at the White House where he was surrounded by loyalists from Capitol Hill and within his administration.

Activist organizations Trump acquittal
President Donald Trump holds a copy of The Washington Post as he speaks in the East Room of the White House one day after the U.S. Senate acquitted on two articles of impeachment, ion February 6 in Washington, D.C. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty

"He's impeached forever, no matter what he says or whatever headlines he wants to carry around," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday. "You're impeached forever. You're never getting rid of that scar, and history will always record that you were impeached for undermining the security of our country, jeopardizing the integrity of our elections and violating the constitution of the United States."

The pro-impeachment grassroots organization Indivisible has launched a new campaign called the "Payback Project," which is seeking to oust nine Senate Republicans through similar initiatives: Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine, Martha McSally of Arizona, Cory Gardner of Colorado, David Perdue of Georgia, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and John Cornyn of Texas.

The group told Newsweek it has seen a spike in volunteer sign-ups and small-dollar donations following Trump's acquittal. Since the vote to subpoena witnesses and documents last week, they've raked in more than $500,000 from more than 20,000 donors.

Stand Up America, which along with a coalition of groups like Need to Impeach and Indivisible organized more than 300 post-acquittal protests across the country, said it will also divert its resources toward the elections. That includes voter registration drives, among other get out the vote initiatives.

"No other president in American history has been more self-serving than Donald Trump," Sean Eldridge, the organization's president, told Newsweek in a statement. "Even though Republicans in Congress are failing to uphold their oath to defend our Constitution, the American people will not take Donald Trump's assault on our democracy sitting down."

Correction, 2/7/19, 9 a.m.: After further information was provided by Indivisible, the dollar amount raised by the group was corrected to show it was collected since the witness vote rather than the acquittal vote.