Trump acquitted despite majority of Senate voting to convict for incitement

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Seven Republicans joined all of the Democrats to say that Donald Trump was guilty.

On Saturday, in a 57-43 vote, a majority of the Senate found Donald Trump guilty of inciting a deadly insurrection in January but fell short of the two-thirds majority necessary for a conviction.

Seven Republicans joined all 50 Democrats in saying Trump was guilty: 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.

It was the second time that Trump survived an impeachment trial in the Senate. In his first trial, Romney was the only Republican to vote for Trump's conviction.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had hinted that he might be open to voting to convict, nonetheless announced earlier in the day that he would acquit after all.

McConnell had previously blamed Trump for inciting the insurrection that claimed five lives and injured dozens of others.

"The mob was fed lies," McConnell said in January. "They were provoked by the president and other powerful people. And they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government which they did not like."

The evidence presented by the House impeachment managers was overwhelming, with extensive video footage of Trump's words of incitement as well as the statements of his supporters once they had breached the Capitol, announcing that they were there for and because of Trump.

Despite that, a majority of Republicans senators refused to acknowledge Trump's guilt and were willing to accept what was widely lambasted as a weak, inaccurate, and ineffective defense by Trump's lawyers — one that several Republican senators criticized.

Trump's attorneys claimed on Friday that there had not even been an insurrection. They showed a bizarre video montage of Democratic politicians saying the word "fight" over and over, attempting to suggest that simply using the word in a speech somehow meant that they were also guilty of inciting violence.

However, none of the Democrats featured in the video has ever given a speech that their supporters then said inspired them to launch a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol — or anywhere else.

Trump's lawyers also blamed "antifa" for the violence, a claim that has been resoundingly debunked. The rioters were avid Trump supporters, carrying Trump signs and wearing Trump hats, often with voluminous social media postings demonstrating their longtime support for Trump.

For some of Trump's most loyal enablers — like South Carolina's Lindsey Graham, Texas' Ted Cruz and Utah's Mike Lee, who met with and advised Trump's defense team throughout the course of the trial — those defenses were sufficient.

For the majority of the Senate, however — and the majority of the voters who've said that Trump should be found guilty — the evidence made it impossible to say that Trump was innocent.

"The [former] president bears responsibility for these tragic events," said Burr, one of the Republicans who voted to convict. "The evidence is compelling that President Trump is guilty of inciting an insurrection ... and that the charge rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors. Therefore, I have voted to convict."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.