The United States Senate voted 57-43 to acquit Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial, as Republicans in a Senate still bruised from the most violent attack on the Capitol in two centuries banded together to reject the charge that he incited the Jan. 6 attack.
But seven Republicans voted with all 50 Democrats to convict, the most bipartisan support for conviction in any of the four impeachments in U.S. history.
The seven Republicans senators were — Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Richard Burr of North Carolina and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
Three presidents have been impeached (Trump twice), but none were convicted.
That outcome reflects two factors.
First, many of the senators experienced the violence of the attack, fleeing for safety as marauders overwhelmed the Capitol Police and swarmed the Capitol during the attack, and that Democrats built a case that the former president undertook a monthslong effort to overturn the election, and then provoked the assault on the Capitol in a last-ditch attempt to cling to power.
“If that is not ground for conviction, if that is not a high crime and misdemeanor against the Republic and the United States of America, than nothing is,” Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and the lead manager, pleaded with senators before the vote. “President Trump must be convicted, for the safety and democracy of our people.”
With most of Trump’s party coalescing around him, the final tally was on track to fall short of the two-thirds majority needed to convict him.
Only with conviction could the Senate move to disqualify Trump from holding future office.
The verdict will bring an abrupt end to the fourth presidential impeachment trial in American history, and the only one in which the accused had left office before being tried.
The jury, composed of senators who witnessed the violence firsthand, were voting on a question with no precedent in American history: whether to convict a former president accused of seeking to violently thwart the peaceful transfer of power — and putting at risk the lives of hundreds of lawmakers and his own vice president.
The trial is ending after just five days, partly because Republicans and Democrats alike had little appetite for a prolonged proceeding, and partly because Trump’s allies had made clear before it even began they were not prepared to hold him responsible.
In the face of a meticulous case brought by nine House prosecutors, most Republicans appeared to find safe harbor in technical arguments that the trial itself was not valid because Trump was no longer in office.
The verdict will mark the end of a 39-day stretch unlike any in the nation’s history.
Dispensing with the customary investigations and hearings, the House moved directly to impeach Trump seven days after the attack, citing an urgent need to remove him from office.
Ten Republicans joined Democrats to adopt the charge, more than had ever supported the impeachment of a president of their party.
In a surprise twist on Saturday, the House managers made an abrupt demand to hear from witnesses who could testify to what Trump was doing and saying during the rampage.
The Senate voted to allow it, but the prospect threatened to prolong the trial by days or weeks without changing the outcome, and in a head-spinning move, the prosecutors quickly dropped it.
After a flurry of closed-door haggling with Republicans, they agreed with Trump’s lawyers to admit as evidence a written statement by a Republican congresswoman, Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, who has said she was told that the former president sided with the mob as rioters were attacking the Capitol.