The former President of the United States, Donald Trump has been acquitted by the Senate in his second impeachment trial Saturday, with the voting indicating that Trump was not guilty of inciting the deadly January 6 invasion of the US Capitol.
Only seven Republican Senators found him guilty and voted against the former President in a verdict they rebuked him, with a final vote of 57 guilty to 43 not guilty, which is short of the 67 guilty votes needed to convict.
As a matter of fact, the surprising thing is that the number of Republican senators who voted against Trump ended up being higher than even what Trump’s legal team had anticipated, marking a stark departure from the first impeachment trial last year when only one Republican senator, Mitt Romney of Utah, found Trump guilty.
The Republicans Senators that voted to convict Trump were, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowksi of Alaska, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Romney.
In fact another big surprise was Burr, the former Senate Intelligence Committee chairman who led the Senate’s Russia investigation, after he voted earlier in the week that the trial was unconstitutional. Both Burr and Toomey are retiring from the Senate at the end of 2022.
Burr made it clear that while he believed the trial was unconstitutional, he decided to put that aside after the Senate voted Tuesday that the trial was constitutional and should proceed.
According to him, “As I said on January 6th, the President bears responsibility for these tragic events. The evidence is compelling that President Trump is guilty of inciting an insurrection against a coequal branch of government and that the charge rises to the level of high Crimes and Misdemeanors. Therefore, I have voted to convict”.
The way the voting was carried out underscored the obvious dilemma Trump has posed to most congressional Republicans in the aftermath of the January 6 riots, with many Republican senators eager for the party to move on from the former President but grappling with the reality that he still holds sway over the party’s base. It’s a dichotomy that the party will face heading into the 2022 midterm elections, when it seeks to regain control of Congress, and the 2024 GOP presidential primary.
The argument of constitutionality was what most Senate Republicans sided with in their votes to acquit, allowing them to avoid casting judgment based on Trump’s conduct. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell offered a blistering criticism of Trump’s actions on the Senate floor after the vote, but McConnell said he voted to acquit because he did not believe convicting an ex-president was constitutional.
“The Senate’s decision today does not condone anything that happened on or before that terrible day,” McConnell said. “It simply shows that senators did what the former President failed to do. We put our constitutional duty first.”