Former U.S. President Donald Trump was acquitted on Saturday 13th February as he was booked for stirring up an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on 6th January. Pro-Trump supporters breached the gates of the Capitol to create turmoil and devastation. Following this incident, majority of Senate Republicans united themselves and refused to penalize the former president in his historic second impeachment trial.
The five-day trial had Democratic prosecutors argue by strengthening their fight by using the dramatic video of the Capitol Hill riot. They said that Trump betrayed his oath by instigating his supporters into storming Congress as a last resort to remain in power.
It concluded as presumed with more than half Republicans declaring him not guilty. This symbolized the powerful hold the 74-year-old Trump goes onto exert on his party.
While the 57-43 majority that voted to convict was less than the two-thirds required in the Senate, seven Republicans collaborated with Democrats to try to obtain Trump’s judgement. This makes it the most bipartisan impeachment trial in U.S. history.
Trump, who has been hidden in his Florida club since leaving office on 20th January — and skipping out on the inauguration on 21st January — welcomed the verdict. He termed the proceedings as “yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our country.”
Although there is damage of a second impeachment, Trump indicated a possible political future, saying that “our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun.”
“We have so much work ahead of us, and soon we will emerge with a vision for a bright, radiant, and limitless American future,” he said in a statement.
Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives on 13th January, exactly a week after the assault at Capitol Hill that stocked the nation and prompted widespread bipartisan outrage.
Democrats contended that Trump’s behavior was an “open and shut” case of impeachable conduct, retracing how he spent two months restating that the election was false and stolen. He then urged his followers to extend their support and attack Congress to stop the counting votes that would certify Joe Biden as President.
“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 away evidence, claiming that Trump’s appeal to supporters to “fight like hell, at the rally that preceded the attack,” was simply rhetorical.
Their primary and central argument was that the Senate didn’t have constitutional jurisdiction to try a former president. Most Republican senators agreed.
Mitch McConnell, the influential Senate minority leader who voted to acquit Trump on those same grounds, clearly suggests he deems Trump to have caused the riot. This sent lawmakers bolting for safety as a predatory mob rampaged through the Capitol.
The former Trump ally released a scorching rebuke of the ex-president, calling his actions before the assault a “disgraceful dereliction” of duty.
McConnell told the chamber after the vote, “There’s no question — none — that president Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day,.”
He emphasized that while Congress has exhausted its paths for punishing Trump, the US justice system has not.
“President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office,” McConnell said. “He didn’t get away with anything yet.”
Building their case over two days, Democratic impeachment managers expressed how Trump first incited, then denied calling a halt to the 6th January insurrection that left then-vice president Mike Pence and lawmakers in fatal danger.
Proclaiming Trump’s innocence, defense lawyer Michael van der Veen told the Senate that “the act of incitement never happened” and that rioters acted indepdently.
Post the trial, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was openly preyed by rioters and was evacuated from the Capitol on 6th January, lashed out at the “cowardly” Republican senators who voted to acquit.
“Senate Republicans’ refusal to hold Trump accountable for igniting a violent insurrection to cling to power will go down as one of the darkest days and most dishonorable acts in our nation’s history,” she said.
Before moving to final leg of arguments, the proceedings were suspended for a few hours on Saturday 13th January, when House impeachment managers, in a surprise strategy, said they wanted to call witnesses.
But they decided to not call the witness and instead conclude with the defense of a statement by congresswoman Jamie Herrera Beutler would be registered as evidence.
Lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin had wanted Herrera Beutler, a Republican who voted to impeach Trump last month, to testify over her statement that Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy made a panic-stricken call to Trump during the attack and pleaded him to call off the rioters.
She said McCarthy briefed her about the call, and said that when he told a cynical Trump that the insurrectionists were his supporters, “according to McCarthy, the president said: ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.'”