Former president Donald trump survived second impeachment bid as the US Senate fell short of two thirds majority required for the conviction. Trump was on a trial for inciting insurrection of January 6 and the ensuing violence claimed five lives and brief take over of the Capitol by Trump supporters.
Fifty seven senators, including seven Republicans, voted to convict Trump. But 67 votes were needed to convict him.
The seven Republican senators who voted against Trump included Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse and Pat Toomey.
Trump is the first president in US history to be impeached by the House twice, and the first to be tried for impeachment after leaving office.
Trump’s acquittal left open the possibility that he could run again for president.
Earlier in the day, the Senate in an unexpected move, allowed witnesses to testify in the trial. In retaliation, Trump’s lawyers threatened to call dozens. Eventually, the two sides agreed to enter Herrera Beutler’s statement into the record and move on.
After the vote, Senator Mitch McConnell said he had been “responsible” for the assault on the Capitol and called it a “disgraceful, disgraceful dereliction of duty”. But, he voted against conviction, calling it “unconstitutional now that Trump was no longer president.”
Trump’s Republican colleague, McConnell, was instrumental in delaying his trial until after he left office.
However, he warned Trump could still be held liable in court.
President Joe Biden said: “While the final vote did not lead to a conviction, the substance of the charge is not in dispute.
“This sad chapter in our history has reminded us that democracy is fragile. That it must always be defended. That we must be ever vigilant. That violence and extremism has no place in America. And that each of us has a duty and responsibility as Americans, and especially as leaders, to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.”
TRUMP JUBILANT: Minutes after the verdict was announced, Trump issued a statement thanking his lawyers and decrying his “enemies for the witch hunt”.
“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,” he wrote.
“I always have, and always will, be a champion for the unwavering rule of law, the heroes of law enforcement, and the right of Americans to peacefully and honorably debate the issues of the day without malice and without hate.”
He lambasted Democrats for attempting to end his political career and told his supporters that “our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun.”