The U.S. Senate acquitted Donald Trump on Saturday in his second impeachment trial in a year.
The quick trial, the nation’s first of a former president, showed how perilously close the invaders had come to destroying the nation’s deep tradition of a peaceful transfer of presidential power after Trump had refused to concede the election. The Senate vote of 57-43 — seven of the 50 Senate Republicans joined the chamber’s unified Democrats — fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to convict Trump on a charge of incitement of insurrection after a five-day trial in the same building ransacked by his followers on January 6, shortly after they heard him deliver a fiery speech.
Earlier in the day, the Senate reached an agreement to avoid witness testimony in the trial.
Republican Congresswoman Beutler issued a statement late Friday that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told her Trump had expressed sympathy and admiration for the mob during a heated phone call between the two amid the unfolding attack on the Capitol. After taking a midday break, senators returned and announced they had reached an agreement that included admitting Beutler’s statement as evidence in the trial.
On Friday, Trump’s lawyers wrapped up their defense of the former U.S. leader, denying he helped incite the attack on the Capitol. Trump’s lawyers described the trial as a politically inspired and illegal “witch hunt.” He told senators that the former president had every right to dispute his election loss to now-President Joe Biden and that Trump’s 70-minute speech just minutes before the insurrection did not amount to inciting the violence.
When Trump urged thousands of supporters on the Ellipse to “fight like hell,” the defense said, it was no different from Democrats’ using similar rhetoric that could spark violence.
The video included many of the Democratic lawmakers who were the impeachment managers prosecuting the former president.
The defense presentation followed a two-day prosecution by House Democrats linking Trump’s rhetoric at the January 6 rally to the actions of the mob that stormed the Capitol afterward in an attempt to block certification of the 2020
Impeachment prosecutors contended Thursday that there was “clear and overwhelming” evidence that Trump incited insurrection by sending the mob to the Capitol to confront lawmakers.
In wrapping up his presentation, Mr. Raskin told the 100 members of the Senate acting as jurors they should use “common sense on what happened here.”Mr. Raskin argued that Trump had urged hundreds of his supporters to march to the Capitol, and then — when they stormed the building, smashed windows, ransacked offices and scuffled with police — “did nothing for at least two hours” to end the mayhem that left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer.
This trial in the final analysis is not about Donald Trump,” said lead prosecutor Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md. “This trial is about who we are.”