Senate acquits Trump in second impeachment trial on charge of inciting Capitol riot

The Senate acquitted former President Donald Trump on Saturday in his second impeachment trial, voting against holding Mr. Trump responsible for inciting the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Senators voted 57-43 in favor of conviction, 10 votes short of the two-thirds majority required by the Constitution in impeachment cases. But in a stronger bipartisan vote than Mr. Trump’s first impeachment, seven Republicans voted with all 50 Democrats for conviction — Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.

The acquittal halted, at least for now, Democrats’ effort to disqualify Mr. Trump from holding federal office again. Democrats, and some Republicans, are discussing a new resolution that would censure Mr. Trump with a simple majority vote.

In his closing argument, defense lawyer Michael van der Veen said Mr. Trump didn’t incite the violence when he spoke at a “Save America” rally near the White House just before the riot.

“The act of incitement never happened,” Mr. van der Veen said. “The violence was pre-planned and premeditated by a group of lawless actors who must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

He said the impeachment case was motivated by Democrats’ unrelenting hatred of Mr. Trump, and their desire to smear “their Number One political opponent.”

“This hastily orchestrated and unconstitutional circus is the House Democrats’ final desperate attempt to accomplish their obsessive desire of the last five years,” Mr. van der Veen said. “It is time to address the real business pressing this nation — the pandemic, our economy, racial inequality, economic and social inequality.”

Democratic House impeachment managers argued that the Senate must hold Mr. Trump accountable for the riot, even though his presidency ended on Jan. 20.

They said Mr. Trump stoked his supporters for weeks with the “big lie” that the election was stolen from him, summoned his followers to Washington on the same day that Congress was certifying the Electoral College results, and urged thousands of them to march on the Capitol and “fight like hell” as lawmakers were counting the votes.

“We showed you hour after hour of real-time evidence demonstrating every step of Donald Trump’s constitutional crime,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the lead impeachment manager.

He said Mr. Trump “indoctrinated the mob with his Orwellian propaganda” about Democrats stealing the election from him through widespread voter fraud.

“They attacked this building, they disrupted the peaceful transfer of power, they injured and killed people, convinced they were acting on his instructions and with his approval,” Mr. Raskin said. “And while that happened, he further incited them while failing to defend us. If that’s not grounds for conviction … then nothing is.”

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