WASHINGTON (AP) -- Enough senators have cast “not guilty” votes on Saturday to acquit Donald Trump of inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The vote will give the former president an historic second acquittal in an impeachment trial.
House Democrats, who voted a month ago to charge Trump with “incitement of insurrection,” needed two-thirds of the Senate, or 67 votes, to convict him.
The Democrats argued in the short trial that Trump caused the violent attack by repeating for months the false claims that the election was stolen from him, and then telling his supporters gathered near the White House that morning to “fight like hell” to overturn his defeat. Five people died when they then laid siege to the Capitol.
Trump’s lawyers argued that the rioters acted on their own accord and that he was protected by freedom of speech, an argument that resonated with most Republicans. They said the case was brought on by Democrats’ “hatred” of Trump.
A lawyer for Donald Trump says everyone acknowledges the horror of the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol last month but that the former president wasn’t responsible for it.
Michael van der Veen gave his closing arguments on the Senate floor on Saturday in the impeachment trial of Trump.
He says there is no evidence that Trump incited an “armed insurrection” to “overthrow the U.S. government” and to think that Trump would have wanted that is “absurd.” He says the event on Jan. 6 was supposed to be peaceful but that a small group “hijacked” it for their own purposes.
He also repeated the arguments from Friday that other politicians have engaged in incendiary rhetoric, though impeachment managers noted that none of those speeches precipitated an attack on the U.S. government.