- The Senate acquitted Donald Trump after an impeachment trial over the Capitol siege.
- Trump was charged with incitement of insurrection related to the deadly event on January 6.
- All 50 Democrats and seven Republicans voted to convict Trump, while 43 Republicans voted to acquit.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
The US Senate on Saturday voted to acquit former President Donald Trump after a contentious impeachment trial over the deadly Capitol siege on January 6.
The House of Representatives impeached Trump last month on a charge of incitement of insurrection related to the siege, which resulted in multiple deaths and sent the political sphere into a tailspin.
All 50 Senate Democrats and seven Republicans voted to convict Trump, while 43 Republicans voted to acquit him. A two-thirds majority is required to convict a federal official and remove them from office. In the event of a conviction, the Senate can also vote by simple majority on whether to bar that official from ever holding public office again.
The Republicans who voted to convict Trump were Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
In a statement on Saturday, Trump thanked the senators who voted to acquit, railed against his critics, and called the impeachment trial “yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our County.”
He added: “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.”
The final vote on Trump’s acquittal came after a tumultuous trial during which the nine House impeachment managers played hours of video footage and Trump’s own remarks to demonstrate how his words paved the way for the Capitol riot.
The oral arguments lasted about 10 hours, with Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead House impeachment manager, emphasising that Trump had a “pattern and practice” of inciting violence before the siege, showing that the insurrection wasn’t an isolated incident.
“These prior acts of incitement cast a harsh light on Trump’s obvious intent” and “unavoidable knowledge of the consequences of his incitement and the clear foreseeability of the violent harm that he unleashed on our people and our republic,” Raskin said on Thursday.
“January 6 was not some unexpected, radical break from his normal law-abiding and peaceful disposition. This was his state of mind. This was his essential MO.”
The defence, meanwhile, drilled down on two key arguments: Trump’s remarks at a “Save America” rally preceding the siege were protected speech under the First Amendment, and even holding an impeachment trial in the first place is unconstitutional given that Trump is out of office and therefore cannot be removed via impeachment.
Trump’s attorneys concluded their oral arguments in under three hours, and they relied heavily on “whataboutism,” drawing a false parallel between Trump’s call for his supporters to stop the peaceful transfer of power and when Democratic lawmakers objected to the electoral results after the 2004 and 2016 presidential races.
One of the lawyers, Bruce Castor Jr., also falsely claimed that the Capitol insurrection wasn’t an insurrection.
Democrats abruptly backtrack on their call for witnesses
Saturday’s vote to acquit Trump came after an hours-long back-and-forth between Democrats and Republicans on the question of subpoenaing witness testimony.
On Friday evening, CNN published a bombshell report detailing a phone call between Trump and the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on January 6 while the siege was underway. During the conversation, CNN said, Trump refused to call off the rioters despite McCarthy’s pleas to do so, and he suggested the insurrectionists cared more about the election than McCarthy did.
“Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,” Trump said, CNN reported. McCarthy then told Trump that rioters were breaking into his office, adding, “Who the f— do you think you’re talking to?”
Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler first revealed the details of the phone call at a town hall earlier this week and confirmed them to CNN. After CNN’s story was published with Herrera Beutler’s statement, Raskin said he wanted to subpoena the congresswoman for her testimony.
Politico had reported earlier on Saturday that the House managers blindsided Senate Democrats with their request for witnesses, and that although Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had prepared for a vote on witnesses, he got no warning before the House managers forced the vote on Saturday morning.
According to the report, the managers themselves debated the question on Friday night and into Saturday morning, and as of 9 a.m. ET, Senate Democrats still had no inkling of what their House counterparts would do.
The Senate ultimately passed the motion to call witnesses by a vote of 55 to 45, with five Republicans joining with Democrats to vote in favour. But after roughly three hours of debate, Democrats reversed course and struck a deal with Republicans not to call witnesses after all.
Instead, Raskin submitted Herrera Beutler’s statement into the Senate record.
‘He chose retaining his own power over the safety of Americans,’ Democrats say in closing arguments
In their closing arguments, the House managers emphasised Trump’s actions leading up to the siege and hammered down on his refusal to act while it was ongoing.
Rep. David Cicilline, one of the impeachment managers, said Trump’s words to McCarthy during their phone call were “essentially saying ‘You got what you deserve.'”
He also referred to a separate conversation Trump had with Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville during the siege, when Tuberville told Trump that then Vice President Mike Pence had been evacuated from the building amid threats to his safety.
“Not only was the president fully aware of the vice president’s situation … when he was asked for help, when he was asked to defend the Capitol less than 30 minutes after inciting this violence against his own vice president, President Trump refused that request for assistance,” Cicilline said.
Rep. Madeleine Dean, another impeachment manager, homed in on how Trump’s supporters believed they were acting on his orders when they stormed the Capitol.
“During his speech on January the 6th, Trump supporters chanted his words to him. They even live-tweeted his commands … during the attack, the insurrectionists at the Capitol chanted Donald Trump’s words from his tweets, rallies, and from the speech at the 6th,” she said.
“He incited the violence to stop the certification, he attacked the vice president and further incited the insurrection to pressure the vice president to stop the certification, he called Sen. Tuberville to stop the certification, and he refused to send help to Congress,” Cicilline said. “And this Congress and the vice president of the United States were in mortal danger because he wanted to stop the certification.”
Trump “chose retaining his own power over the safety of Americans. I can’t imagine more damning evidence of his state of mind,” he continued.
The defence team lobbed allegations of violation of due process and evidence manipulation against House managers.
“The House managers’ false narrative is a brazenly dishonest attempt to smear, to cancel, constitutional cancel culture, their number one political opponent, taking neutral statements, commonplace political rhetoric, removing words and facts from context, and ascribing to them the most sinister and malevolent intentions possible,” Trump lawyer Michael van der Veen said. “Their story was based not on evidence but on the sheer personal and political animus.”
“They should be cancelled,” he added.
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