Trump Acquitted In Senate Impeachment Trial By 57-43 Vote
The final votes in Donald Trump‘s impeachment trial were cast Saturday afternoon, acquitting the former president of his charge of inciting an insurrection. Despite a 57 – 43 vote to impeach Trump, including seven Republicans, a two-thirds majority (67 votes) was needed to convict him.
The impeachment article against Trump were introduced after the deadly January 6 storming of the Capitol, which resulted directly in the deaths of five people, and the later suicides of two police officers. The Democratic prosecution built their case not only on Trump’s role in the riot, but also his months-long effort to hold on to his presidential power despite the election results.
“If that is not ground for conviction, if that is not a high crime and misdemeanor against the Republic and the United States of America, than nothing is,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland) told senators before the vote.
However, Trump’s legal defense and its Republican supporters argued both that Trump’s impeachment after his term’s end was unconstitutional, a point which Sen. Mitch McConnell drove home with his last-minute letter to the GOP.
“At no point did you hear anything that could ever possibly be construed as Mr. Trump encouraging or sanctioning an insurrection,” said one of Trump’s lawyers, Michael van der Veen.
The defense’s win comes despite a poor performance in court and the presentation of minimal evidence, as the five-day trial ended abruptly after both it and the prosecution forfeited opportunities to present additional evidence in court. The defense used only three of its 16 allotted hours to present evidence, while the prosecution presented evidence for ten hours but gave up a crucial opportunity to hear from witnesses to Trump’s behavior during the riot.
Though the verdict ultimately does not guarantee that Trump will not face further criminal charges, it does allow him a path to pursue future positions in public office, and introduces a new “January exception” potentially allowing presidents to break the law without legal repercussions towards the very end of their terms.