US President Donald Trump gestures during a rally to contest the certification of the results of the 2020 US presidential election by the US Congress on January 6, 2021 in Washington, USA.
Jim Bourg | Reuters
The Senate on Saturday acquitted former President Donald Trump in a 57-43 vote on charges of instigating rioting for his role in the Jan. 6 riot in the U.S. Capitol, which killed 5 people, including a police officer.
Seven GOP senators voted guilty in the most bipartisan majority in support of an impeachment conviction in US history. It took Democrats 17 Republicans to join Trump and hold a separate vote to keep him from running for office in the future.
The decision came after the House impeachment managers reversed course and dropped a call for testimony that would have delayed the verdict. The acquittal marks the end of a five-day impeachment trial.
Republicans who voted guilty included Sens. Richard Burr from North Carolina, Bill Cassidy from Louisiana, Susan Collins from Maine, Lisa Murkowski from Alaska, Mitt Romney from Utah, Ben Sasse from Nebraska, and Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania. Toomey and Burr are not running for re-election in Congress.
Nine House Democrats acted as impeachment managers in the process, arguing that Trump had direct responsibility for the riots and was bringing new video and audio evidence to the US Capitol during the attack.
Trump’s defense team denied that the former president instigated the attack, arguing that Trump’s rhetoric was protected by the first change. His lawyers also argued that the process was unconstitutional as Trump was a private individual and no longer president.
No president before Trump has ever been tried and tried twice, and a former president has never been tried in the Senate.
In Trump’s first impeachment trial, the Senate acquitted Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress because Trump had pressured Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son. Romney was the only GOP Senator found guilty in the trial.
Trump described the process in a statement following his acquittal on Saturday as “another phase in the greatest witch hunt” in US history.
“Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to make America great again has only just begun,” Trump said. “I have a lot to share with you in the months ahead and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people.”
Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, in a speech in the Senate, classified the acquittal as “un-American” and said the January 6 riots would be Trump’s “last terrible legacy”.
“Let it live on in shame, a stain on Donald John Trump that can never, never be washed away,” said Schumer. “There was only one correct judgment in this process: guilty.”
Chief impeachment manager, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., Said in his closing arguments that the house managers presented “overwhelming and irrefutable” evidence that Trump orchestrated and instigated the attack on the Capitol.
Raskin compared Trump’s actions to those of an arsonist who started a fire, kept pouring fuel on it, and stood ready to see it burn “happily”. In a separate argument, he got more personal, asking the senators if this was the kind of land they wanted future generations to give.
“This process is ultimately not about Donald Trump. The country and the world know who Donald Trump is,” said Raskin. “This process is about who we are.”
“And if we as a people cannot deal with it together, we all forget the boundaries of party, ideology and geography and all these things. If we cannot deal with it, how will we ever conquer the other?” Crises of our time? “Raskin continued.” Is that America? Do we want to leave this to our children and grandchildren?
Trump’s attorney Michael van der Veen said in his concluding argument that the Democrats had committed a tremendous violation of Trump’s constitutional rights by punishing him for a protected speech on the First Amendment. He described this as an attempt to “censor unfavorable political speeches and discriminate against those who were disapproved of” stance. “
“It is an unprecedented action with the potential to cause serious and lasting damage to both the presidency and the separation of powers and the future of democratic self-government,” said Van der Veen.
Democratic impeachment manager Rep. David Cicilline, DR.I., made his closing argument by going through the timeline of Trump’s actions on the day of the riot and rejecting the defense team’s claim that Trump did not know his Vice President Mike Pence. was in danger.
“It developed on live television in front of the whole world. Do you believe that no one, not a single person, informed the President that his Vice-President had been evacuated? Or that the President did not look at the television Has.” ? Or his Twitter account? “Said Cicilline.
“He cheated on us on purpose. He broke his oath,” added Cicilline.
Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., Rejected arguments from Trump’s defense team, saying that Trump had convinced his supporters to believe his “big lie” that the 2020 election was stolen and that they had to go out to fight it.
“It is not true that you did this of your own accord and for your own reasons,” said Dean. “The evidence shows the exact opposite, that for Donald Trump they did this at his invitation, at his direction, at his command.”
The Senate had voted to allow witnesses 55 to 45 ahead, with five Republicans joining all Democrats. The GOP Senators were Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Collins, Murkowski, Romney and Sasse.
However, the board agreed to terminate the trial shortly afterwards after including a statement from Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., As evidence on the record. Earlier in the day, Raskin called for Beutler’s removal after confirming the contents of an explosive phone conversation between the House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy and Trump as the attack on the Capitol unfolded.
On the call, Trump appeared to be on the side of the rioters. Beutler’s testimony stated that Trump said to McCarthy, “Well, Kevin, I think these people are more upset about the election than you are.”
Van der Veen responded to Raskin by saying, “We should close this case today,” saying the call for witnesses showed that the House had not properly investigated the riot.
It is unclear whether calling witnesses could have changed the votes of GOP senators who have already made their decisions.
For example, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell told his Republican counterparts earlier in the day that he intended not to vote guilty, arguing the chamber had no power to convict a former president.
The House indicted Trump when he was still president and McConnell declined to start the process before Biden’s inauguration because there wasn’t enough time. After the acquittal, McConnell criticized Trump for a “shameful breach of duty”.
“There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day,” McConnell said. “No question.”