Trump’s 2nd impeachment trial ends in acquittal

Washington, Feb 13 (efe-epa).- The historic second impeachment trial of now-former US President Donald Trump ended Saturday in acquittal, as 57 of the 100 senators found him guilty on the sole charge of inciting insurrection, 10 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed for a conviction.

Seven Republicans voted to convict the man who remains the most powerful figure in their party.

Richard Burr of North Carolina; Bill Cassidy of Louisiana; Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska; Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska; and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania joined 48 Democrats and the Senate’s two independents in finding Trump guilty.

The leader of the Republicans in the Senate, Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell, voted to acquit after having said initially that he was open to the idea of convicting Trump.

The minority leader’s staff leaked his intentions to reporters ahead of the vote and it is possible that word of McConnell’s stand influenced some Republicans who had been leaning toward conviction to vote for acquittal.

Trump hailed the result of the trial.

“Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun,” he said. “In the months ahead I have much to share with you, and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together.”

The unprecedented second impeachment of Trump stemmed from events at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, when hundreds of his supporters stormed the legislature as Congress was meeting to certify Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the Nov. 3 presidential election.

The riot, which led to five deaths, occurred hours after a “Stop the Steal” rally where the-then president encouraged his partisans to march on the Capitol.

“And after this, we’re going to walk down there … to the Capitol and we are going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women,” Trump said. “And we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them. Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.”

The assault forced then-Vice President Mike Pence – who was at the Capitol to preside over the election certification – and lawmakers to shelter in the House and Senate chambers until they could be evacuated.

“This impeachment has been a complete charade from beginning to end,” one of Trump’s lawyers, Michael van der Veen, said Saturday during closing arguments before the vote.

“The entire spectacle has been nothing but the unhinged pursuit of a long-standing political vendetta against Mr. Trump by the opposition party,” the attorney said.

Speaking for the prosecution, Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, one of the “impeachment managers” appointed by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, asked Republican senators to put the national interest above that of their party.

“This trial in the final analysis is not about Donald Trump. The country and the world know who Donald Trump is,” Raskin said. “This trial is about who we are.”

“And if we can’t handle this together as a people, all of us, forgetting the lines of party and ideology and geography and all of those things, if we can’t handle this, how are we ever going to conquer the other crises of our day?,” the lawmaker said.

Raskin introduced some unexpected drama into the process Saturday morning when he sought – and won – a vote to allow witnesses.

Within hours, however, the impeachment managers and Trump’s attorneys decided instead to admit into the record a statement from Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler regarding a telephone conversation between the then-president and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Jan. 6.

“When McCarthy finally reached the president on Jan. 6 and asked him to publicly and forcefully call off the riot, the president initially repeated the falsehood that it was Antifa that had breached the Capitol,” Herrera Beutler said.

“McCarthy refuted that and told the president that these were Trump supporters. That’s when, according to McCarthy, the president said: ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,'” she said.

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