The United States Senate voted to acquit former President Donald Trump, finding him not guilty of “incitement of insurrection” for the role he played in the January 6 siege on Capitol Hill. The February 13 vote was a first in American history. No United States president has ever stood trial for impeachment after leaving office. Voting came down to 57 votes “yea” and 43 votes “nay.” Seven Republicans shockingly voted to convict: Richard Burr (NC), Bill Cassidy (LA), Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Mitt Romney (UT), Ben Sasse (NE), and Pat Toomey (PA).
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) tore into the decision to acquit in a speech following the vote. “The former President inspired, directed, and propelled a mob to violently prevent the peaceful transfer of power, subvert the will of the people, and illegally keep that President in power,” Schumer said. “There is nothing, nothing more un-American than that. There is nothing, nothing more antithetical to our democracy… insulting to the generations of Americans patriots who gave their lives to defend our form of government. Let it live on in infamy, a stain on Donald John Trump that can never, never be washed away.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell gave a baffling speech of his own in which he condemned Trump’s actions regarding the insurrection, just minutes after voting to acquit. “Former president’s Trump’s actions preceding the riots were a disgraceful, disgraceful dereliction of duty. There’s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day,” McConnell stated. Again, he and 42 of his colleagues had just voted to acquit Trump of high crimes and misdemeanors for inciting the riots.
The acquittal came after five days of harrowing testimony from lawmakers who were at the Capitol when Trump supporters attacked on January 6. House Delegate Stacey Plaskett (D-Virgin Islands) shared never before seen footage from the riot during her testimony at the trial. The incredibly disturbing videos, taken from the halls of the Capitol, showed insurgents breaking windows and attacking police officers.
While marching through the building, a group of rioters chanted “Hang Mike Pence!” Minutes earlier, Trump had tweeted that the vice president “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.” The president had just learned that Pence and his family were fleeing the Capitol. Gallows were erected outside. In another part of the building, an insurgent yelled “Nancy, where are you?” as he and cohorts tried to break down locked doors while trying to find the House Speaker.
They nearly reached Pelosi’s staffers, who were hiding in one of the rooms under a table. The footage from the insurrection also revealed that some of the insurgents were heavily armed with tactical gear. The person photographed sitting with his feet up on Pelosi’s desk had a 925,000 volt stun gun on his belt.
Trump’s trial and acquittal come after he was impeached for the second time on January 13 — a staggering “accomplishment,” considering they each occurred in just over one year. Trump is now responsible for two of the four total presidential impeachments in United States history. The House of Representatives held their hearing and cast votes in a matter of hours after concluding that he was responsible for inciting the insurrection at the Capitol that left five dead.
Ten Republican representatives joined the Democrats in voting to impeach: Adam Kinzinger (IL), John Katko (NY), Liz Cheney (WI), Fred Upton (MI), Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA), Dan Newhouse (WA), Peter Meijer (MI), Tom Rice (NC), David Valadao (CA), and Anthony Gonzalez (OH). No House Republicans voted to impeach Trump in 2019.
Trump statement makes clear he’s not going away: “Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun. In the months ahead I have much to share with you…” pic.twitter.com/vOCD30rTqW
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) February 13, 2021
Seven Republican senators followed their lead on February 13, voting to convict. If Trump had been convicted, he would have lost a number of benefits afforded to past presidents under the Former President Act: Secret Service detail, a lifetime pension of $400,000 per year, private air travel, access to classified intelligence information, and, most importantly, the ability to run for office at any level. Trump’s threat to run for a second term in 2024 is still viable.
Trump issued a statement immediately after the verdict was announced in Senate, indicating that he’s not going anywhere, anytime soon: My deepest thanks to all of the United States Senators and Members of Congress who stood proudly for the Constitution we all revere and for the sacred legal principles at the heart of our country… Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun. In the months ahead I have much to share with you.”