The US Senate has voted to acquit former US president Donald Trump of inciting an insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6.
House Democrats, who voted a month ago to charge Trump with “incitement of insurrection,” needed two thirds of the Senate, or 67 votes, to convict him.
But seven Republicans voted with all 50 Democrats to convict, the most bipartisan support for conviction in any of the four impeachments in US history.
The Democrats argued in the short trial that Trump caused the violent attack by repeating for months the false claims that the election was stolen from him, and then telling his supporters gathered near the White House that morning to “fight like hell” to overturn his defeat. Five people died when they then laid siege to the Capitol.
Trump’s lawyers argued that the rioters acted on their own accord and that he was protected by freedom of speech, an argument that resonated with most Republicans. They said the case was brought on by Democrats’ “hatred” of Trump.
With most of Trump’s party coalescing around him, the final tally was on track to fall short
of the two-thirds majority needed to convict him. Only with conviction could the
Senate move to disqualify Trump from holding future office.
The verdict will bring an abrupt end to the fourth presidential impeachment trial in American history, and the only one in which the accused had left office before being tried. The jury, composed of senators who witnessed the violence whether to convict a former president accused of seeking to violently thwart firsthand, were voting on a question with no precedent in American history: lawmakers and his own vice president.
The trial is ending after just five days, partly because Republicans and Democrats alike had
little appetite for a prolonged proceeding, and partly because Mr. Trump’s allies had made clear before it even began they were not prepared to hold him responsible.