Former President Donald Trump was acquitted for the second time by the Senate in a 57-43 vote, with seven Republicans siding with the Democrats. The vote failed to reach the 67 needed in order to convict Trump for incitement of insurrection following the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6.
The House of Representatives voted 232-197 in favor of impeachment last month. Ten Republican representatives voted in favor of impeachment, including the number three Republican in the House, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming. The 10 Republicans who voted for impeachment have faced harsh criticism from their own party, especially Cheney, who has faced censures and survived removal from Republican leadership.
While the House needs a simple majority to impeach a president, the Senate needs two-thirds, or 67 out of 100, to convict. However, in the end, 57 senators voted to convict.
It was expected that the Senate would acquit the former president, but it was unclear how many Republicans would be swayed by the House impeachment managers.
Five of the seven Republican senators had hinted that they would vote for impeachment (Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania) since they voted the trial was constitutional in January.
Following the constitutional arguments from the House impeachment managers and Trump’s defense attorneys, Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana was the lone Republican to change his vote that the trial was constitutional. Meanwhile, the seventh Republican who unexpectedly voted for conviction was Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina. Burr’s vote was unexpected as he gave no indication on how he would vote.
Most Republican senators voted against convicting Trump due to the argument that the Senate has no jurisdiction to convict a former official.
The House impeachment managers used most of the 16 allotted hours for their argument on why Trump should be convicted. They mainly supported their argument that Trump incited the insurrection at the Capitol with videos of the event.
The managers argued that Trump had incited violence for years with incidents such as his speech following the events at Charlottesville and cheering on violence at campaign rallies in 2015. They countered the main constitutional argument from the defense team, that the Senate has no authority to try and convict a former official, by citing that the first impeachment proceeding in the country’s history was that of a former official.
They also pressed Republican senators about the potential consequences if they voted to acquit Trump.
“If President Trump’s lawyers endorse his breathtaking assertion that his conduct inciting these events was totally appropriate … then any president could incite and provoke insurrectionary violence against us again,” lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin of Maryland said.
Meanwhile, Trump’s defense team only used three of their 16 allotted hours, where they mainly focused on the lack of constitutional authority. The defense team also argued that the trial was just another partisan attack and Democrats have wanted to impeach Trump since he was elected.
The Senate’s acquittal of Trump was mainly due to the fact that he is now a private citizen, as many Republicans felt there was no authority to try and convict a private official. This was the quickest impeachment trial the Senate has ever conducted, with a span of only five days, and the most bipartisan, with seven senators of the opposing party voting to convict.