Former President Trump acquitted by U.S. Senate on second impeachment
The U.S. Senate on Saturday (Feb. 13) voted 57-43 to acquit former President Donald Trump of “high crimes and misdemeanors” for his role in an “incitement of insurrection.” Both Arkansas senators voted to acquit on the fifth and final day of the impeachment trial.
An impeachment vote requires two-thirds of Congress, or 67 votes, to convict. U.S. Sens. John Boozman, R-Ark., and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., voted to acquit (not guilty). The vote saw seven Republican Senators vote to convict the former president. Republican Senators who voted to convict were U.S. Sens. Richard Burr (N.C.), Bill Cassidy (La.), Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Mitt Romney (Utah), Ben Sasse (Neb.), and Pat Toomey (Pa.).
Trump made history on Jan. 13 by becoming the first sitting president to be impeached twice. The vote saw 10 Republican members of Congress, including GOP whip Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., join Democrats in voting for impeachment. The Democratic-controlled Congress passed an article of impeachment on a 232-197 vote.
Trump encouraged supporters to descend on the nation’s capital on Jan. 6. The pro-Trump mob left a rally that Trump and his surrogates spoke at and sieged the U.S. Capitol as Congress was formally certifying the Electoral College vote for president, won by Joe Biden. Members of Congress disbursed for more than six hours while law enforcement got the rioters under control. Eventually, Congress confirmed the presidential results.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., named the nine impeachment managers who argued for impeachment in the Senate trial. Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., was the lead manager. The other managers were Reps. Diana DeGette (Colo.), David Cicilline (R.I.), Joaquin Castro (Texas), Eric Swalwell (Calif.), Ted Lieu (Calif.), Joe Neguse (Colo.), Madeleine Dean (Pa.) and Del. Stacey Plaskett of the Virgin Islands.
The House managers primarily argued that former President Trump’s frequent and consistent claims of election fraud, his calls for citizens to act against the fraud, and his verbal attacks on former Vice President Mike Pence and other political leaders resulted in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol that resulted in the direct deaths of five people, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick.
“We’ve offered you overwhelming and irrefutable and certainly unrefuted evidence that former President Trump incited this insurrection against us,” Raskin said in his closing comments.
Trump attorneys – Bruce Castor, David Schoen, and Michael van der Veen – responded with two primary points: That impeaching a former elected official is unconstitutional, and there is no clear evidence that Trump’s words “intended to incite violence.” The attorneys also argued that the impeachment was an unconstitutional attack on free speech. Van der Veen said the House managers case reflected an “unhinged” party seeking to punish the former president.
Sen. Boozman issued this comment: “January 6, 2021 will forever be remembered as one of the darkest days in our nation’s history. The attack on the U.S. Capitol by a violent mob was a threat to our democracy. Courageous law enforcement officers defended lives and safeguarded the constitutional duty of Congress to certify the presidential election.
“While former President Donald Trump bears some responsibility for what happened that day, the perpetrators who planned, coordinated and assaulted the Capitol building must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law and brought to justice.
“I maintain my belief that the constitutional legitimacy of this impeachment trial was lacking, and therefore the outcome was expected. The Senate’s time would have been better spent considering solutions that improve COVID-19 vaccination deployment, advance economic recovery efforts and reopen our nation’s schools. We should immediately work together to achieve those critical objectives.”
Trump was previously impeached in December 2019 for his efforts to influence the Presidential election but was acquitted in the U.S. Senate. The two articles of impeachment at that time accused Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress for his behavior in the controversy surrounding military aid to Ukraine and relations with the new Ukranian President, Volodymyr Zelensky. Trump was accused of asking Zelensky to investigate potential corruption involving Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, in Ukraine, while Trump delayed the military funding that Congress passed.