After acquittal, Trump pledges to continue journey on American greatness
Former president of the United States, Donald Trump has welcomed his acquittal in a second impeachment trial, saying his political movement “to Make America Great Again has only just begun”.
The US Senate voted 57-43 in favour of convicting the former president on Saturday, falling short of the two-thirds majority needed to convict him on a charge of inciting the mob that attacked the US Capitol on January 6, during the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s election win.
In a statement shortly after the acquittal, Trump called the trial “yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our nation”.
Trump left office on January 20, so impeachment could not be used to remove him from power.
But Democrats had hoped to secure a conviction to hold the 74-year-old responsible for the Capitol siege and set the stage for a vote to bar him from serving in public office again.
Though Trump was acquitted of the sole charge of incitement of insurrection, seven Republicans joined all Democrats to convict the former president.
The figure marked the largest number of Senators to ever vote to find a president of their own party guilty of an impeachment count of high crimes and misdemeanors.
They were Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania.
Trump is only the third president ever to be impeached by the House of Representatives as well as the first to be impeached twice and the first to face an impeachment trial after leaving office.
But the Senate still has never convicted an impeached president.
After Saturday’s verdict, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who voted “not guilty,” in the trial, offered scathing remarks about Trump.
“There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day,” he said. “The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president.”
McConnell suggested that Trump could still face criminal prosecution for his acts, however.
“President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office as an ordinary citizen,” McConnell said. “He didn’t get away with anything. Yet.”
The minority leader was not the only Republican to castigate Trump for his behaviour after voting for acquittal.
Senator Chuck Grassley, the Senate’s most senior Republican, described Trump’s language in a fiery speech to supporters just before the Capitol assault as “extreme, aggressive and irresponsible”.
But he said the Senate had no jurisdiction to hold a trial, agreed with Trump’s legal team that the former president deserved more “due process” and said the prosecution had not made their case.