The former Republican president is acquitted in a 57-43 vote of the charge of “incitement to insurrection” for his role in the assault on the Capitol
Seven Republican senators join the Democrats but do not reach the majority of 67 votes necessary for the conviction
After knowing the result, Trump reacts in a statement talking about “witch hunt”
The presidency of Donald Trump will go down in the history books for many things, including having led to democracy in U.S on the edge of abyss, but one of its defining and definitive characteristics will be that of the impunity. This Saturday, 38 days after a mob of his followers stormed the Capitol and interrupted for a few hours the process of certification of the legitimate electoral victory of Joe Biden that he has never acknowledged, the former president has been acquitted in his second impeachment, in which he faced the charge of “incitement to insurrection “. A majority of 57 senators have voted to find him guilty, 50 Democrats and 7 Republicans, but a two-thirds majority has not been reached (67 votes) needed for conviction.
Trump had already made history as the first president to face impeachment twice and the first to face the process after leaving office. Since this Saturday he is the first twice exonerated, this time in the fastest ‘impeachment’, of only five days. And although the conviction of seven Republicans, including two who will not stand for election again, has sealed the most bipartisan impeachment vote in history, that of the other 43 conservatives has made it evident the power that Trump still has in the Republican Party: for his unwavering support among the ranks and for his unwavering backing among many of the 74 million other Americans who voted for him.
Trump has achieved acquittal despite the fact that, as the nine Democratic congressmen who have acted as prosecutors have stated since Tuesday, it is proven that spent months waving unfounded allegations and conspiracy theories about fraud and robbery electoral. He is exonerated despite the fact that it is proven that he has been winking at violence, militias, white supremacists and other violent extreme right groups for years. And in a statement of reaction to the vote he spoke again of “Witch hunt“, even though it is evident that he harangued the masses that summoned Washington on the 6th with a call to” fight like hell. “
The accounts for the conviction have never come out. In fact the day opened with the Conservative leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, announcing to his fellow ranks that he would vote for absolution. McConnell justified it for reasons of form, questioning constitutionality of the trial once Trump is no longer president. Obviously, yes, he stopped the possibility of starting the trial when the Republican was still in the Oval Office and he controlled the Upper House. And it was also obvious that a majority of the Senate, including six Republicans, ratified that the trial has been constitutional. His position has been made even more shocking when he has offered a harsh speech condemning Trump after voting to acquit him.
This Saturday it seemed, for a couple of hours, that the resolution of this ‘impeachment’ was not going to be so expeditious. In an unexpected move, the Democratic prosecutors opened the session by asking to subpoena Republican Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler as a witness, who on Friday night issued a statement confirming a conversation she had with Kevin McCarthy, leader of the conservative minority in the Lower House, on another conversation he had with Trump on January 6 according to which the president sided with the mob that was storming the Capitol.
It was not new information but prosecutors saw an opportunity to re-highlight the conflicting Trump actions even once the assault began and the congressmen and senators and their vice president, Mike Pence, were fleeing the violent mob or going to safety.
Without consulting with the Democratic leadership in the Senate, the prosecutors proposed summoning the congresswoman and enlisted the support of 55 senators to summon witnesses, including four from the moderate Republicans and Lindsey Graham. And that momentarily plunged the whole process into a pandemonio But the possibility of extending or deepening the ‘impeachment’ ended up being a mirage, something that was not to the taste of the defense of Trump and many Republicans but neither of other Democrats nor of the Biden’s White House, anxious to achieve legislation such as covid-19 crisis relief package or more confirmations from your cabinet.
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After moments of bewilderment and intense negotiations, with Republicans threatening to call “hundreds” of witnesses, an agreement was announced to introduce Herrera’s statement into the evidence for the prosecution, but discarding summoning it. And from that moment came the expected: the final arguments, the vote and, again, the feeling that Trump is, as always, Mr. Teflon.
In 2016, as a candidate, he said: “could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and I would not lose voters. ” He was exaggerating but he knew what he was talking about. Five years later the terms of the proposition have changed but still apply. 57-43. Trump was right.