In a 57-43 vote, the Senate has voted to acquit former President Donald Trump of the charges of impeachment for inciting an insurrection at the Capital building on January 6th. Failing to flip the necessary 17 Republican Senators to convict Trump, Democrat’s second attempt at impeachment ends in the same fashion-failure.
Seven Republicans broke party lines and voted guilty alongside Democrats, Richard Burr (R-NC), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Pat Toomey (R-PA).
After earlier back-and-forth on the decision to call witnesses, with the Senate initially voting to call witnesses to the trial until a deal to bypass the vote was struck later in the day, the closing arguments commenced, making way for the final vote, a largely predictable outcome. Democrats never even approached the 17 Senator threshold for the 2/3 majority required to convict the former President and, after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced his decision to acquit, the impeachment trial was dead in the water.
“While a close call, I am persuaded that impeachments are a tool primarily of removal and we therefore lack jurisdiction,” McConnell wrote in the email, which was obtained by NBC News.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer dug into the decision as “un-American”, stating “The former President inspired, directed, and propelled a mob to violently prevent the peaceful transfer of power, subvert the will of the people, and illegally keep that President in power.”
While the Senate did not convict Trump, Schumer said, “I believe he will be convicted in the court of public opinion. He deserves to be permanently discredited, and I believe he has been discredited in the eyes of the American people and in the judgment of history.”
Lead House impeachment manager, Jamie Raskin (D-MD), went off on the Senate’s decision, arguing “We proved he betrayed his country. We proved he betrayed his Constitution. We proved he betrayed his oath of office. The startling thing to recognize now is that he is even betraying the mob. He told them he would march with them, and he didn’t. They believed the president was right there with them, somewhere in the crowd, fighting the fantasy conspiracy to steal the election and steal their country away from them. They thought they were one big team working together. He told them their great journey together was just beginning, and now there are hundreds of criminal prosecutions getting going all over the country, people getting set to say goodbye to members of their family, and the president who contacted them — solicited them, lured them, invited them, incited them — that president has suddenly gone quiet and dark. Nowhere to be found. He cannot be troubled to come here and tell us what happened.”
Democrats relied heavily on the argument that Trump’s violent rhetoric led up to the riots over months of Tweets and statements, blaming his raising of the political temperature and reinforcement of conspiracy theories about the 2020 election for the riots that took place at the Capital, while Trump’s lawyers defended his statements as constitutionally protected speech and that Trump never explicitly encouraged violence.
“Since he uttered not a single word encouraging violence, this action can only be seen as an effort to censor disfavored political speech and discriminate against a disapproved viewpoint,” said Michael van der Veen, one of Trump’s defense lawyers.
Trump’s defense team also pointed out the double standard between Democrats and Trump, reminding us that Democrats “refused to tell their violent supporters to stand down” during the BLM riots last summer and that Vice President Kamala Harris donated to groups that bailed out rioters and called on her supporters to do the same in June 2020.
Former President Trump released a statement through his office, calling the trial “yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our Country,” and that “no president has ever gone through anything like it.”
Trump also promised a triumphant return, telling supporters “our historic, patriotic, and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun.” In an inspiring message, Trump proclaimed, “Together, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.”
After five too many days, this monumentally wasteful impeachment trial has mercifully ended exactly as everyone had expected and, hopefully, the Senate can return to helping Americans during a brutal economic crisis and a global pandemic.