US Senate acquits Trump of incitement of insurrection

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The second Senate Impeachment Trial of former US President Donald Trump has ended in his acquittal on the charge of incitement of insurrection – but not without 7 Republican Senators joining the Democratic majority to convict.

In a vote ending with 57 to convict and 43 to acquit, the ayes fell 10 short of the threshold to convict.

The former President stood accused of violating his oath of office by making false claims about the outcome of last November’s Presidential election while egging on his supporters into a dramatic crescendo that saw the Capitol invaded.

But a majority of Republican Senators felt they had no jurisdiction to convict because Trump was now a private citizen and therefore no longer impeachable.

SABC’ Sherwin Bryce-Pease reports:

The acquittal comes less than a week into the Senate trial and over a month after the attack on the United States Congress on January 6th that was in session affirming the presidential election win of President Joe Biden.

Patrick Leahy, President Pro Tempore of the Senate, presided over the trial.

“The yeas are 57. The nays are 43. Two-thirds of the senators present not having voted guilty, the Senate judges that the respondent Donald John Trump, former President of the United States, is not guilty as charged of the article of impeachment.”

And so it was that Donald Trump escaped conviction in no less than two impeachment trials – with 43 Republicans voting to acquit including the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who took to the floor after his not-guilty vote to eviscerate the former President for his role in inciting the mob.

“They did this because they’d been fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on earth because he was angry he lost an election. The former President’s actions that preceded the riots were a disgraceful dereliction of duty. (Flash) There’s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. No question about it. The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instruction of their president and having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories and reckless hyperbole which the defeated President kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet earth.”

McConnell warned that the former President could still be held criminally liable for his actions while in office as Democrats rebuked Republicans for what they called hypocrisy in preventing a conviction.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “This was the most egregious violation of the Presidential oath of office and a textbook example, a classic example of an impeachable offence, worthy of the constitution’s most severe remedy in response to the incontrovertible fact of Donald Trump’s guilt. The Senate was subject to a feeble and sometimes an incomprehensible defence of the former President. Unable to dispute the case on the merits, the former President’s counsel treated us to partisan vitriol, false equivalence and outright falsehoods. We heard the roundly debunked jurisdictional argument that the Senate cannot try a former official, a position that would mean that any President could simply resign to avoid accountability for an impeachable offence, a position which in effect would render the Senate powerless to ever enforce the disqualification clause in the constitution.”

The Senate decision closing this chapter on the Trump Presidency but leaves open the possibility that he could seek elected office in the future including running for President again.

Senators agree to hold votes on witnesses: