Donald Trump was yesterday acquitted by the United States Senate in an impeachment trial for his role on the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol.
Rendering its judgment for history, a divided Senate fell short of the two-thirds majority required to convict the former president of high crimes and misdemeanors over his months-long quest to overturn his election defeat and its deadly conclusion on 6 January, when Congress met to formalize the results of the election.
After just five days of debate – the fastest presidential impeachment trial in American history – seven Republicans joined every Democrat in declaring Trump guilty on the charge of “incitement of insurrection”.
Trump was the first US president to be impeached twice and is now the first president to be twice acquitted. If convicted, he could have been barred from holding office in the future, but this decision now paves the way – should Trump want to run again – for another tilt at the White House in 2024.
Trump’s acquittal was never in doubt. Seventeen Republicans would have had to join all Democrats to achieve the two-thirds majority needed to convict Trump of high crimes and misdemeanors. Several Republicans argued that the trial was unconstitutional, even though a majority of the Senate voted on Tuesday to proceed with the trial.
The final vote tally was 57-43. Seven Republicans voted to convict: Richard Burr of North Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana joining five who were expected to turn against Trump: Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, was among those who voted to acquit the former president.