politics

Donald Trump has been acquitted in his second impeachment trial. Here's what you need to know.

In the former US president's second impeachment trial in a year, the US Senate has acquitted Donald Trump for inciting a riot on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021

On Saturday morning, local time, the US Senate voted to convict 57-43 - ten votes short of the required two-thirds needed to find Trump guilty. 

Here are four important takeaways from the historic impeachment trial. 

This was the most bipartisan impeachment trial in US history. 

Despite the acquittal, this impeachment trial garnered the most bipartisan support for conviction in US history.

Of the 50 republicans in the Senate, seven of them broke party ranks to vote to convict Trump.

Voting to find the former president guilty were Republican senators Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania.

Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Trump "incited the insurrection against Congress by using the power of his office to summon his supporters to Washington". 

“He did this despite the obvious and well-known threats of violence that day. President Trump also violated his oath of office by failing to protect the Capitol, the vice president and others in the Capitol. Each and every one of these conclusions compels me to support conviction," Romney said in a public statement. 

Donald Trump's response. 

Following the Senate's decision, Donald Trump released a statement thanking his lawyers, defenders and supporters. 

"It is a sad commentary on our times that one political party in America is given a free pass to denigrate the rule of law, defame law enforcement, cheer mobs, excuse rioters, and transform justice into a tool of political vengeance, and persecute, blacklist, cancel and suppress all people and viewpoints with whom or which they disagree," Trump said.

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Trump further condemned the Democratic party, adding the impeachment was "yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our country".

The 74-year-old did not address the Capitol riot specifically or comment on the role he played in the insurrection. Instead, he said his movement to Make America Great Again "has only just began". 

A pro-Trump protester carries the lectern of U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi through the Roturnda of the U.S. Capitol Building during the riot on January 6, 2021. Image: Getty.

Trump could still run for president in 2024.

Yes, the Senate's acquittal means Donald Trump can still run for president in 2024 - a move that has been hinted at, but never confirmed, by the former president.

Trump's statement on Saturday vaguely mentioned he had announcements to make soon. 

“Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun," the former president said. "In the months ahead I have much to share with you, and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people. There has never been anything like it!"

According to a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, Trump remains a popular prospective candidate, with 40 per cent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents saying they would vote for Trump if he ran for the 2024 Republican primary. 

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A pro-Trump group confronts U.S. Capitol police outside the Senate chamber of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021. Image: Getty.

Mitch McConnell's controversial vote. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he believes Trump is guilty of inciting an insurrection on the Capitol, but nevertheless voted to acquit the former president.

"There's no question — none — that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. No question about it. The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their President," McConnell said.

So why did he not vote to convict? Because he believes the impeachment trial was unconstitutional due to the fact Trump is no longer in office. 

"We have no power to convict and disqualify a former office holder who is now a private citizen," McConnell explained.

"Donald Trump's no longer the president. Likewise, the provision states that officers subject to impeachment and conviction shall be removed from office if convicted," he continued.

McConnell left open the possibility of Trump being held liable by the criminal justice system. 

Image: Getty. 


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