Donald Trump has been acquitted of inciting the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, bringing a historic impeachment trial to a conclusion and sparing him the dishonor of being the first ever convicted current or former U.S. president.
After five days of debate in the chamber that played host to the chaotic scenes last month, a divided Senate fell 10 votes short of the two-thirds majority required to convict high crimes and misdemeanors. A conviction would have seen Trump disqualified from holding future office.
The quick trial, the first of a former US president, painted a clear picture of how dangerously close the invaders had come to destroying the tradition of a peaceful transfer of presidential power and the role that Trump played in events leading up to that day.
Rallying outside the White House, he implored a mob of supporters to “fight like hell” for him at the Capitol just as Congress was certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s victory. Hundreds followed his call and stormed the building as lawmakers fled for their lives. Five people were killed.
Seven Republicans joined every Democrat in declaring Trump guilty on the charge of “incitement of insurrection” after his months-long quest to overturn his defeat by Joe Biden and its deadly conclusion when Congress met to formalize the election results.
The seven Republicans willing to vote against party lines 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 Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
Trump, seemingly unrepentant, welcomed his second impeachment acquittal and said his movement “has only just begun.” He disparagingly described the trial as “yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our Country.”