The US Senate voted Saturday toon an impeachment charge of incitement of insurrection, bringing to a close. The vote came after a five-day proceeding in which arguments focused on whether Trump incited on Jan. 6, and whether it’s constitutional to conduct an impeachment trial of a former president who’s now a private citizen.
The acquittal, largely along party lines, was expected. Though the Senate is split 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris a potential tie-breaking vote as president of the Senate, the impeachment trial required a two-thirds supermajority for a conviction, meaning 17 Republican senators would’ve had to break with Trump.
In the end, the vote was 57-43 to convict, with all 48 Democrats, two independents and seven Republicans finding Trump guilty. The Republicans who voted alongside Democratic senators to convict Trump were Sens. Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski, Ben Sasse, Pat Toomey, Bill Cassidy and Richard Burr.
“It was the most bipartisan conviction we’ve ever seen in the Senate for a presidential impeachment,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, lead impeachment trial manager, said Saturday afternoon.
A conviction was an unlikely outcome from the beginning. In a Jan. 25 vote led by Sen. Rand Paul on whether the impeachment trial of an ex-president is unconstitutional, just five Republicans voted in favor of a trial. The first day of the impeachment trial, earlier this week, saw a similar vote, during which only six Republicans voted with Democrats to continue the proceeding.
Following Saturday’s acquittal, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, decried the result, saying the case “was open and shut.”
More surprising was a speech from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, who despite voting not guilty said Trump was “practically and morally responsible for provoking” the attack on the Capitol. McConnell said he voted to acquit because he believes the Senate doesn’t hold the power under the Constitution to convict a former president.
In a statement after the verdict, Trump accused Democrats of transforming “justice into a tool of political vengeance” and defended his record. “I always have, and always will, be a champion for the unwavering rule of law, the heroes of law enforcement, and the right of Americans to peacefully and honorably debate the issues of the day without malice and without…