The Senate on Saturday voted 57-43 in favor of finding former President Donald Trump guilty of inciting an insurrection, ending his second impeachment trial in an acquittal as support from 67 senators was required for a conviction.
With the Senate split 50-50 and only six Republican senators voting on Tuesday to proceed with the trial, the president’s acquittal was expected by investors. But the proceedings helped to reveal the extent to which Trump still has a grip on the Republican Party, which will aim to retake control of the House and Senate in next year’s elections and win back the White House in 2024.
The seven GOP senators who joined with the chamber’s 50 Democrats and independents to vote “guilty” were North Carolina’s Richard Burr, Louisiana’s Bill Cassidy, Maine’s Susan Collins, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, Utah’s Mitt Romney, Nebraska’s Ben Sasse and Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey.
Trump faced the charge of inciting an insurrection in the wake of the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol by his supporters, who were seeking to disrupt the congressional certification of his loss in the presidential election. The Democratic-led House approved the charge last month, with 10 Republicans in that chamber supporting the former president’s second impeachment.
During the past week’s trial in the Senate, the House managers who served as prosecutors likened Trump to a rogue fire chief who tells a mob to start fire, then watches “with glee” as the blaze spreads. They showed extensive video of the Capitol siege and Trump’s Jan. 6 speech just before it occurred.
The lead House manager, Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, told senators on Saturday to think about how future generations will view their votes on whether to acquit or convict Trump.
“This is almost certainly how you will be remembered by history,” Raskin said during his side’s closing arguments on Saturday afternoon. “Our reputations and our legacy will be inextricably intertwined with what we do here and with how you exercise your oath to do impartial justice — impartial justice.”
One of Trump’s defense attorneys, Michael van der Veen, told the Senate not to “indulge the impeachment lust,” as he gave his closing arguments.
“It is time to bring this unconstitutional political theater to an end. It is time to allow our nation to move forward. It is time to address the real business pressing this nation,” van der Veen said.
In the past week, Trump’s defense attorneys argued that the former president wasn’t responsible for the Jan. 6 attack and blasted the proceedings as “constitutional cancel culture.”
A conviction in the trial would have been a major surprise, as House managers would have had to win over 17 of the chamber’s 50 Republicans to get the two-thirds support that was required.
Markets had been expected to shrug at the proceedings, and the main U.S. stock gauges
on Friday closed with weekly gains. Investors are more focused on talks on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 aid proposal.
The trial’s conclusion came after a couple of curveballs on its final day.
Witnesses hadn’t been expected in the proceedings, but Raskin said on Saturday morning that his team wanted to call Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington state after she released a statement late Friday that said Trump on Jan. 6 resisted telling his supporters to stop storming the Capitol.
The Senate then voted 55-45 in favor of calling witnesses, in a move that appeared to extend the trial. Later a deal was struck to enter the congresswoman’s statement as evidence and avoid calling witnesses.
Trump has become the first president to get impeached twice, and it’s also a first that the trial has taken place after he has left the White House.
His first impeachment trial ended a year ago with the Senate voting to acquit him on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The vote was 52 to 48 on the abuse charge and 53 to 47 on obstruction, with only Romney breaking with his party and joining with Democrats to vote “guilty” on the first charge.