Former President Trump was acquitted in an unprecedented second impeachment trial on the charge of inciting an insurrection for the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, making him the first and only president to impeached and acquitted twice in history.
A majority of senators found Trump guilty on Saturday in a 57-43 vote, but the number fell short of the supermajority needed to convict the president. Had Trump been convicted, the Senate would have moved to bar the 45th president from holding federal office ever again.
The seven GOP senators who joined with all Democrats in finding Trump guilty were: Sens. 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 Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
The acquittal means that as of now Trump can leave the door open to another White House bid in 2024, though senators have hinted they may still try to bar him from office in a separate 14th Amendment measure.
Trump’s second impeachment trial spanned just five days of arguments, making it the shortest in presidential history. The previous record was held by Trump in 2020 when his trial related to inviting foreign interference into the election spanned 21 days.
The trial surrounded the Jan. 6 riot when pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, beat police officers, chanted “Hang Mike Pence” and forced lawmakers to take shelter. The mayhem temporarily stopped Congress’ certification of President Biden’s Electoral College win.
House impeachment managers accused Trump of inciting the insurrection by spreading a “big lie” the election was stolen from him, summoning his supporters to Washington on Jan. 6, telling them to “fight like hell” and then refusing to call off the attack once the mob violently took over the Capitol.
Trump legal’s team denounced the proceedings as an unconstitutional “sham impeachment” against a private citizen, driven by Democrats’ “hatred” for Trump and desire to silence a political opponent.
Trump lawyers also argued the former president’s political speech is protected by the First Amendment and his words on Jan. 6 to his supporters to “fight like hell” were not meant literally. To drive home that point during the trial, Trump’s defense played an 11-minute video of nearly every Democrat in the chamber using the words “fight” in their past speeches and interviews.
The vote capped a wild Saturday in Washington with numerous plot twists.