Trump welcomes acquittal in second impeachment trial

WASHINGTON: The former president of the United States, Donald Trump has welcomed his acquittal in a second impeachment trial.

Donald Trump termed his acquittal a political movement “to make America great again has only just begun”. In a statement shortly after the acquittal, Trump called the trial “yet another stage of the greatest witch hunts in the history of our nation”.

“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,” he added.

The US Senate voted 57-43 in favor of convicting the former president on Saturday, falling short of the two-thirds majority needed to convict him on a charge of inciting the mob that attacked the US Capitol on January 6 during the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s election win.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who voted “not guilty,” in the trial, offered scathing remarks about Trump after the verdict.

“There is no question that Trump is practically and morally responsible for irritating the events of the day,” he said. “The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president,” McConnell added.

In the vote, seven of the 50 Senate Republicans joined the chamber’s unified Democrats in favoring conviction after a week-long trial in the same building ransacked by Trump’s followers after they heard him deliver an incendiary speech on Jan. 6.

Trump left office on January 20, so impeachment could not be used to remove him from power. However, Democrats had hoped to secure a conviction to hold the 74-year-old responsible for the Capitol siege and set the stage for a vote to bar him from serving in public office again.

Though Trump was acquitted of the sole charge of incitement of insurrection, seven Republicans joined all Democrats to convict the former president. The figure marked the largest number of Senators to ever vote to find a president of their own party guilty of an impeachment count of high crimes and misdemeanors.

The acquittal delayed against a background of gaping divisions in the pandemic-weary US along political, racial, socioeconomic and regional lines. The trial provided more adherent warfare even as President Biden has called for harmony.

According to an Ipsos poll conducted for Reuters, about 80 percent of Americans, including almost half of all Republicans, believe Trump was at least partially guilty for starting the Capitol assault, however,  only about half of the country thought he should be convicted of inciting revolts.

Trump is only the third president ever to be impeached by the House of Representatives – a step akin to a criminal indictment – as well as the first to be impeached twice and the first to face an impeachment trial after leaving office.

On January 13, the House approved the single article of impeachment against Trump, with 10 Republicans joining the chamber’s Democratic majority.

That vote came a week after the pro-Trump mob stormed the neoclassical domed Capitol, interrupted the formal congressional certification of Biden’s victory, clashed with an overwhelmed police force, and invaded the hallowed House and Senate chambers.