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March 4, 2021
Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial ended on Saturday afternoon, with Trump being acquitted for his alleged role of inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
The Senate voted 57-43 resulting in Trump’s acquittal, with just seven Republicans siding with all Democrats and independents, falling short of the 67 votes needed to convict. The seven Republicans who voted to convict Trump: 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 Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. House impeachment managers and Trump’s lawyers closed by arguing four points: The Senate does not have the jurisdiction to try a former president, that the House did not present multiple claims against Trump as separate articles of impeachment, that Trump was not afforded due process, and that he is protected by the First Amendment. Because Trump was not convicted, there will not be a second vote to bar him from future office.
Senators started the day by voting 55-45 to allow for the calling of witnesses and the subpoenaing of additional documents despite earlier indications from both sides that there would be no need for further testimony, surprising both sides of the aisle. Trump’s defense team said if witnesses were going to be called, they would also call witnesses such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser to ask about security on January 6th. Following this announcement, the House Impeachment Managers backed off from calling witnesses. Michael van der Veen, one of Trump’s lawyers, in a heated speech before senators said he would want to depose “at least over 100” people. A Trump aide later said there could be as many as 301 [MSN].
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) voted to acquit but tore into Trump in a floor speech afterwards. He said “President Trump is constitutionally not eligible for conviction” as a result of already leaving office, but that “there is no question — none — that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day.” McConnell added that Trump voters aren’t responsible for the violence. “74 million Americans did not engineer the campaign of disinformation and rage that provoked it. One person did. Just one,” he said. But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) argued that the acquittal could result in more violence. “The failure to convict Donald Trump will live as a vote of infamy in the history of the United States Senate,” Schumer said.
Trump attorney Michael van der Veen maintained in closing arguments that Democrats were hypocritical for impeaching Trump over a heated pre-riot speech and said the proceeding was unconstitutional. “Throughout the summer Democrat leaders including the current president and vice president repeatedly made comments that provided moral comfort to mobs attacking police officers,” van der Veen said. Van der Veen said that the Capitol break-in that disrupted certification of President Biden’s victory and left five dead actually “was pre-planned and premeditated by fringe left and right groups.” He argued that local officials failed to provide adequate security for the Capitol.
Lead impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) argued that Trump must be convicted and banned from holding office again to preserve US democratic traditions. “We’ve shown you how President Trump created a powder keg, lit a match and then continued his incitement even as he failed to defend us from the ensuing violence,” Raskin said Saturday. “This case is about whether our country demands a peaceful, non-violent transfer of power.” Raskin said that Trump knew there would be violence at the Capitol after he concluded a pre-riot speech and that he didn’t join the march because “he didn’t want to be too close to the action when all hell was about to break loose” [USA Today].
Trump thanked the 43 Republicans who voted to acquit him in an emailed statement: “This has been yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our Country. No president has ever gone through anything like it, and it continues because our opponents cannot forget the almost 75 million people, the highest number ever for a sitting president, who voted for us just a few short months ago,” Trump said in a statement. “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. There has never been anything like it!”
The statement continues: “It is a sad commentary on our times that one political party in America is given a free pass to denigrate the rule of law, defame law enforcement, cheer mobs, excuse rioters, and transform justice into a tool of political vengeance, and persecute, blacklist, cancel and suppress all people and viewpoints with whom or which they disagree. I always have, and always will, be a champion for the unwavering rule of law, the heroes of law enforcement, and the right of Americans to peacefully and honorably debate the issues of the day without malice and without hate” [NY Post].
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: WFMZ