Donald Trump dismissed a bipartisan effort to convict the former president as “another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our country” after the US Senate fell short of a two-thirds majority vote to find him guilty for inciting the lethal insurrection at the Capitol on 6 January.
The former president said 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” following a 57-43 vote to convict him following a five-day trial that outlined his voter fraud lies and encouragement of political violence leading up to the assault on Congress that sought to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
In his statement, he appeared to project criticism against him and members of his party by accusing Democrats of possessing a “free pass to denigrate the rule of law, defame law enforcement, cheer mobs, excuse rioters, and transform justice into a tool of political vengeance” despite years of accusations of doing the same, argued across several days in his second impeachment trial this week.
He instead accused Democrats of wielding justice to “persecute, blacklist, cancel and suppress all people and viewpoints with whom or which they disagree.”
“I have always, and always will, be a champion for the unwavering rule of law, the heroes of law enforcement, and the right of Americans to peacefully and honorably debate the issues of the day without malice and without hate,” said the ex-president, who was twice-impeached by the House of Representatives while in office.
The statement did not mention the assault on the Capitol.
Democratic impeachment managers acting as prosecutors in the trial argued that the former president has shown no remorse for his actions and warned that a vote to acquit the president would embolden his behaviour.
Moments before the vote, Congressman Joe Neguse said that “the cold, hard truth is that what happened on 6 January can happen again”.
“I fear, like many of you do, that the violence we saw on that terrible day may be just the beginning,” he said on Saturday. “The extremist groups grow more emboldened every day. Senators, this cannot be the beginning. It can’t be the new normal. It has to be the end, and that decision is in your hands.”
House impeachment managers outlined their arguments against the former president and his responsibility for the riot in the halls of Congress – that he promoted the “big lie” of election fraud that compelled his supporters to break into the Capitol as lawmakers certified the election results, along with his months-long attempts to undermine election integrity and court political violence, leading up to his command to “fight like hell” at a rally on 6 January.
Congresswoman Madeleine Dean argued that the ex-president “knew the people he was inciting” and “saw the violence they were capable of.”
“He had a pattern and practice of praising and encouraging supporters of violence, never condemning it,” she said. “Senators, the insurrectionists are still listening.”
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