Washington: Donald Trump survived a second impeachment trial Saturday when the US Senate acquitted him on the charge of incitement of insurrection, ending Democratic efforts to hold the former president accountable over the deadly US Capitol riot.
The five day trial, in which Democratic impeachment managers argued that Trump betrayed his oath of office by urging his supporters to storm Congress in a bid to block certification of the November election, concluded with an insufficient 57-43 majority of senators voting to convict.
It was the most bipartisan impeachment trial vote ever, with seven Republicans breaking ranks to join all 50 Democrats in seeking conviction — a dark and permanent stain on a former president who may yet seek to run for office again.
But two-thirds of the chamber, or 67 senators, is necessary to convict, and the Senate ultimately was not willing to punish the former president.
In Trump s historic second impeachment trial, the senators for the first time ever were not only jurors, but witnesses to the assault at the heart of the charge against Trump.
Democrats argued that Trump s behavior was an “open and shut” example of an impeachable offense, saying that as president he repeated the falsehood that the election was stolen, then whipped up supporters to attack Congress and stop the certification of the vote.
“He summoned his supporters to Washington, on the Ellipse, whipped them into a frenzy, and directed them at the Capitol,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said after the vote.
The defense team swatted such evidence away, insisting the Senate had no constitutional jurisdiction to try a former president. Most Republican senators agreed.
Trump, who has been secluded in his Florida club since leaving office on January 20, issued a statement in which he expressed thanks for the verdict, and called the proceedings “yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our country.”
The 74-year old Republican also hinted at a possible political future, and at “continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people.”
“We have so much work ahead of us, and soon we will emerge with a vision for a bright, radiant, and limitless American future,” Trump said.