Senate lawmakers acquitted former President Donald Trump for a second time Saturday, marking the end of a five-year campaign by Democrats to achieve the top item on their agenda before, during, and after Trump’s one-term presidency.
The weekend vote acquitted Trump on charges of “incitement of insurrection,” passed by the lower-chamber last month in a snap impeachment featuring no hearings and no witnesses, exactly one week after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
Ultimately seven Republicans joined with 48 Senate Democrats and two Independents in voting to impeach Trump, bringing the final tally to 57-43, ten votes short of the 67 needed to convict.
Trump’s second acquittal by the Senate comes almost exactly a year after the upper chamber dismissed two articles passed by Democrats in a soap opera show trial over charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice.
This year’s impeachment, pursued by Democrats even after the president left office, focused on the January riot at the Capitol that featured a horde of Trump supporters interfering with congressional certification of the electoral college vote. Democrats in the House were joined by 10 Republicans in their impeachment vote over Trump’s alleged incitement, despite the former president’s explicit call for his supporters to protest peacefully before the riot.
“I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard,” Trump told his supporters gathered near the White House. “Today we will see whether Republicans stand strong for integrity of our elections.”
“We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” the former president said in the same speech.
A timeline of events compiled by the New York Times determined rioters launched their assault on the Capitol a full 20 minutes before Trump even finished speaking that day.
Nevertheless a handful of Republican lawmakers, led by Liz Cheney of Wyoming, joined the Democrat impeachment effort, which would have barred Trump from ever holding public office again. Cheney’s vote provoked backlash on two fronts, with Republicans in Congress and voters at home.
Cheney’s statements were frequently quoted by Democrats and their progressive allies in legacy media, even being prominently featured at the top of House Democrat impeachment manager Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin’s closing argument.
“The president of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” Cheney claimed of the Capitol riots. “Everything that followed was his doing.”
While last year’s impeachment trial lasted several weeks, this year’s lasted only several days, opening on Tuesday and concluding with a Saturday vote just before 4:00 p.m. Earlier that morning, the trial threatened to go longer as confusion gripped the upper chamber over whether there would be witnesses.The Democrat impeachment managers won a procedural vote offering the green light to bring witnesses forward, and then proceeded straight to closing arguments.
Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, whose vote on impeachment remained unclear, announced to colleagues Saturday morning he would vote for acquittal, one day after Trump’s lawyers made their case.