Donald Trump Acquitted by the Senate in His Unprecedented Second Impeachment Trial
Donald Trump was charged in January with inciting an insurrection after a mob of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol during a joint session of Congress and five people died
The Senate has spoken.
A total of 57 senators voted to convict Trump.
The House of Representatives had charged Trump on Jan. 13 with inciting an insurrection in the Capitol riots that saw a mob of his supporters storm the building during a joint session of Congress, overwhelming law enforcement and sending lawmakers into hiding.
Five people died.
Ten House Republicans joined the Democratic majority in voting to impeach — the most such votes against a president by members of his own party. The No. 3 House Republican, Liz Cheney, voted to impeach.
Trump, 74, is the only president to have been twice impeached, after he was previously charged by the House with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in the Ukraine scandal. The Senate acquitted him in that trial.
"I want to first thank my team of dedicated lawyers and others for their tireless work upholding justice and defending truth. My deepest thanks as well to all of the United States Senators and Members of Congress who stood proudly for the Constitution we all revere and for the sacred legal principles at the heart of our country. Our cherished Constitutional Republic was founded on the impartial rule of law, the indispensable safeguard for our liberties, our rights and our freedoms," Trump said in a statement following the results of the trial.
His second impeachment trial opened on Feb. 9 and saw the House impeachment managers (analogous to prosecutors) recreate a timeline of Trump's behavior before, during and after the Capitol attacks and of the mayhem unfolding inside the building.
Relying on the public record of Trump's comments as well as extensive video footage, including previously unseen security video, they argued that Trump's months-long baseless claims that the November election was illegitimate fomented the violence among his supporters.
This was epitomized by a Jan. 6 rally near the White House in which he encouraged attendees to soon march on Congress, which they did, and to "fight like hell" for the country, which he warned was being stolen away.
He told rally attendees to be peaceful and patriotic but, when large groups of his supporters descended into mob violence at the Capitol, Trump praised them as "very special" even as he told them to leave.
Later, Trump tweeted, "These are the things and events that happen. ... Remember this day forever!"
"Jan. 6 was not some unexpected radical break from his normal law-abiding and peaceful disposition, this was his state of mind," Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead impeachment manager, told the Senate. "He knew that egged on by his tweets and his messages for a wild time in Washington, his extreme followers would show up bright and early, ready to attack, ready for extreme violence to fight like hell for their hero."
Trump's somewhat contradictory messaging — urging his supporters on along with periodic, if faint, calls for peace — was also the core of his defense team's presentation, who said his speech did not constitute incitement.
His attorneys also argued a former president could not stand trial in the Senate and that the impeachment was political revenge by Democrats who wanted to bar him from future elections.
"That's the real reason we're here," attorney Bruce Castor Jr. said.