Former President Donald Trump was the first US president to be impeached twice and was acquitted both times
The Senate has acquitted the former president of the United States, President Donald Trump, in his second impeachment trial voting that he was not guilty of inciting the deadly January 6 riot at the US Capitol. The final vote was 57 guilty to 43 not guilty, short of the 67 guilty votes needed to convict him.
Held exactly one month after the House impeached Trump, the number of Republican senators who voted against Trump ended up higher than even what the legal team representing Trump had anticipated, marking a stark departure from the first impeachment trial last year when only one Republican senator, Mitt Romney of Utah, found Trump guilty.
This time, Republicans Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Romney voted to convict Trump. surprisingly inclusive of this number was Burr, the former Senate Intelligence Committee chairman who led the Senate’s Russia investigation, after he voted earlier in the week that the trial was unconstitutional. Burr said that while he believed the trial was unconstitutional, he decided to put that aside after the Senate voted that the trial was constitutional and should proceed.
“As I said on January 6th, the President bears responsibility for these tragic events. The evidence is compelling that President Trump is guilty of inciting an insurrection against a coequal branch of government and that the charge rises to the level of high Crimes and Misdemeanors. Therefore, I have voted to convict,” Burr said in a statement. The vote underscored the obvious dilemma Trump has posed to most congressional Republicans in the aftermath of the January 6 riots, with many Republican senators eager for the party to move on from the former President but grappling with the reality that he still holds sway over the party’s base. It’s a dichotomy that the party will face heading into the 2022 midterm elections, when it seeks to regain control of Congress, and the 2024 GOP presidential primary.
Most Senate Republicans sided with the constitutionality argument in their votes to acquit, allowing them to avoid casting judgment based on Trump’s conduct. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell offered a blistering criticism of Trump’s actions on the Senate floor after the vote, but McConnell said he voted to acquit because he did not believe convicting an ex-president was constitutional.
“The Senate’s decision today does not condone anything that happened on or before that terrible day,” McConnell said. “It simply shows that senators did what the former President failed to do. We put our constitutional duty first.”
Trump’s attorney Michael van der Veen, however, said the former President was “vindicated”.
“He had a good day in court today. He was vindicated. He was found not guilty,” van der Veen said after the vote. “The political witch hunt that they had, that the Democrats had thrown at him was defeated, so he should feel quite pleased.”