Senate votes to acquit on Trump impeachment

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Senate voted Saturday on impeachment of former President Donald Trump for his role in inciting a mob that overran the U.S. Capitol.

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The Senate voted 57-43 to acquit the former president on the charges of incitement of insurrection. A two-thirds majority is required for conviction.

The seven Republican senators who voted with Democrats were Sens. Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Ben Sasse, Mitt Romney and Pat Toomey.

It is the conclusion to a weeklong trial that has at times shown graphic imagery from the riot and the grim reality of its consequences.

House prosecutors argued that Trump’s rallying cry to go to the Capitol and “fight like hell” for his presidency just as Congress was convening Jan. 6 to certify Biden’s election victory was part of an orchestrated pattern of violent rhetoric and false claims that unleashed the mob. Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died during the attack.

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Democrats said that Trump did nothing as the mob rioted.

Trump’s lawyers vigorously denied he incited the riot and accused Democrats of waging a campaign of “hatred” against the former president.

On Saturday, Trump released a statement thanking his supporters and those who defended him during the impeachment.

“Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun. In the months ahead I have much to share with you, and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people,” Trump said in a statement, NBC News reported. “There has never been anything like it.”

Trump is the only president to be impeached twice and the first to face trial after leaving office.

Late Saturday, President Joe Biden released a statement, noting that, “while the final vote did not lead to a conviction, the substance of the charge is not in dispute.”

“Even those opposed to the conviction, like Senate Minority Leader McConnell, believe Donald Trump was guilty of a ‘disgraceful dereliction of duty,’' Biden said. “Each of us has a duty and responsibility as Americans, and especially as leaders, to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.

“That is how we end this uncivil war and heal the very soul of our nation. That is the task ahead.”

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., and the lead manager for the House impeachment team, pleaded before the vote for a conviction.

“If that is not ground for conviction, if that is not a high crime and misdemeanor against the Republic and the United States of America, than nothing is,” Raskin said. “President Trump must be convicted, for the safety and democracy of our people.”

The impeachment and trial took 39 days, and the vote was the most bipartisan impeachment vote in U.S. history.

In a news conference after the verdict, Raskin said that while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell voted for acquittal, the Kentucky Republican agreed with the House impeachment team’s case.

“All of them are hinging it on a legal argument,” Raskin said about Republicans who voted to acquit. “That could never be overcome by any number of witnesses.”

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., one of seven Republicans who voted to convict Trump, released a video explaining his decision.

“Our Constitution and our country is more important than any one person,” Cassidy said. “I voted to convict President Trump because he is guilty.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.