Biden warns ‘democracy is fragile’ after Trump acquittal at impeachment trial

President insisted Americans have responsibility to ‘defend the truth and to defeat the lies’

Louise Hall
Sunday 14 February 2021 14:00
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What happened at Trump impeachment trial?

President Joe Biden has said that “democracy is fragile” after the acquittal of former president Donald Trump over the weekend, adding that “the substance of the charge” against Mr Trump was “not in dispute.”

In a swift conclusion of Mr Trump’s historic second impeachment trial on Saturday, the former president was acquitted of inciting the deadly attack on the US Capitol on 6 January.

“This sad chapter in our history has reminded us that democracy is fragile,” Mr Biden said in a statement issued hours after the Senate failed to win a supermajority vote.

“That it must always be defended. That we must be ever vigilant. That violence and extremism has no place in America,” he added.

The verdict of the trial, which came in on a vote of 57-43, including seven Republicans, was 10 short of the 67 required for conviction.

While the vote on Saturday was not enough to secure a conviction of Mr Trump, the president said that “the substance of the charge is not in dispute.”

“Even those opposed to the conviction, like Senate Minority Leader McConnell, believe Donald Trump was guilty of a ‘disgraceful dereliction of duty’ and ‘practically and morally responsible for provoking’ the violence unleashed on the Capitol,” Mr Biden said.

In a floor speech shortly following the Senate’s vote to acquit Mr Trump, Sen McConnell conceded the former president was “practically and morally responsible for provoking” the attack on the Capitol.

The president has been largely silent on the impeachment trial, leaving the judgment of Mr Trump up to Senators as he focuses on passing his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill through Congress.

Mr Biden noted that his thoughts were with Brian Sicknick, who was killed during the attack, others who were on guard at the building, and those who lost their lives.

The president warned that “each of us has a duty and responsibility as Americans, and especially as leaders, to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.”

Following the verdict, the ex-president dismissed his second impeachment as “another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our country”.

Mr Trump insisted that his movement to “Make America Great Again” has “only just begun” and will emerge “with a vision for a bright, radiant and limitless American future”

Mr Biden, however, said that the country needed to end what he called “an uncivil war and heal the very soul of our nation.”

The swift trial, the first of a former US president, saw just five days of debate in the chamber, which rioters on 6 January had breached and ransacked just over a month before.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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