House Speaker Nancy Pelosi condemned Republicans who voted to acquit Donald Trump for his role inciting an insurrection at the US Capitol on 6 January, following a months-long campaign to undermine election results that fuelled his supporters to riot.
“What we saw in the Senate today was a cowardly group of Republicans who apparently have no options, because they were afraid to defend their job, respect the institution in which they serve,” she told reporters on Saturday.
Following the vote on the floor of the US Senate, Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the former president demonstrated a “textbook example” of an impeachable offence “worthy of the Constitution’s most severe remedy” but rejected by a legal team that was “unable to dispute the case on the merits” while relying on “partisan vitriol, false equivalence and outright falsehoods.”
Democratic impeachment manager Jamie Raskin told reporters that the arguments from the defence were “totally at odds” with historical precedent and the text and intent of the Constitution.
The Senate voted 57-43 to convict the former president, falling short of a two-thirds majority vote to convict him. Seven Republican senators broke from their party to convict, but at least 17 Republicans would have had to join the Senate’s 48 Democrats and two independent senators who caucus with them to secure a conviction.
GOP Minority Leader Mitch McConnell voted against convicting the president, after delaying an impeachment trial while Mr Trump was still in office then twice voting that the trial would be unconstitutional because Mr Trump was not in office.
But following his vote, he said the ex-president is “practically and morally responsible for provoking” the assault, inspired by “wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on earth” that the election was stolen from his supporters.
Speaker Pelosi slammed his remarks as “very disingenuous.”
“It is so pathetic that Senator McConnell kept the Senate shut down so that the Senate could not receive the Article of Impeachment and has used that as his excuse for not voting to convict Donald Trump,” she said.
In a prepared statement, Speaker Pelosi said “Republicans’ refusal to hold Trump accountable for igniting a violent insurrection to cling to power will go down as one of the darkest days and most dishonourable acts in our nation’s history.”
“Tragically, Senate Republicans who voted not to convict chose to abandon the Constitution, the country and the American people with this vote,” she said.
Republican Senator Pat Toomey, among seven Republicans who voted to convict the former president, told reporters that “I did what I thought was right and I would certainly like to think regardless of my political circumstances or whether I was running again I would do the same thing.”
Speaking to reporters following the Senate vote, Trump attorney Michael Van Der Veen said “this country needs to cool the temperature.”
“Our country needs to face the business in front of it ... with love and peace in our hearts,” he said.
He returned to reporters to condemn “bloodthirsty” media that is “feeding the anger of both sides.”
Jason Miller, an adviser to the former president, read a statement from him, adding that more will be coming from him in the coming days.
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