The historic second impeachment trial of former U.S. President Donald Trump in the Senate ended with his acquittal in a 57-43 vote on Saturday, a final tally that is 10 short of the two-thirds majority required for a conviction.
This time, seven fellow Republicans voted to convict Mr Trump of the single charge of incitement of insurrection, in what was at odds with the first impeachment trial last year when only one Republican senator, Mitt Romney of Utah, found Mr Trump guilty.
Republicans Senators Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowksi of Alaska, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Mr Romney all voted to convict Trump.
Although Republican Leader Mitch McConnell condemned Mr Trump’s behaviour, he voted not guilty, “because former presidents were not eligible for impeachment trials” like other private citizens.
The Senate trial followed impeachment of the former president by the House of Representatives for allegedly inciting the deadly January 6 riot at the Capitol Hill.
Reacting to his acquittal, Mr Trump described the trial as “yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our country.”
“No president has ever gone through anything like it,” he said in a statement.
“And it continues because our opponents cannot forget the almost 75 million people, the highest ever for a sitting president, who voted for us just a few short months ago.
“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,” he said.
Reacting to the acquittal Saturday night, President Joe Biden said that the “substance of the charge is not in dispute,” and noted the bipartisan nature of the vote.
“While the final vote did not lead to a conviction, the substance of the charge is not in dispute. Even those opposed to the conviction, like Senate Minority Leader McConnell, believe Donald Trump was guilty of a ‘disgraceful dereliction of duty’ and ‘practically and morally responsible for provoking’ the violence unleashed on the Capitol,” CNN quoted Mr Biden to have said.
The acquittal means Mr Trump is still eligible to run for president again in 2024, if he so chooses.
But observers believe that the riots at the U.S. legislative headquarters may continue to be associated with the Trump brand, especially among independent voters and some Republican
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