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US election

US Senate acquits Donald Trump in second impeachment trial

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Donald Trump on Saturday was acquitted by the US Senate in his second impeachment trial in 12 months, as his fellow Republicans shielded him from accountability for the deadly assault by his supporters on the US Capitol, a shrine of American democracy.

The US Senate vote of 57-43 fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to convict Trump on a charge of incitement of insurrection after a five-day trial in the same building ransacked by his followers on Jan. 6 shortly after they heard him deliver an incendiary speech.

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House Democrats began wrapping up their impeachment case against Trump on Saturday after a tumultuous morning in which they gave up a last-minute plan for witness testimony that could have significantly prolonged the trial and delayed a vote on whether the former president incited the deadly Capitol insurrection.

The U.S. Senate votes to acquit former U.S. President Donald Trump by a vote of 57 guilty to 43 not guilty, short of the 2/3s majority needed to convict, during the fifth day of the impeachment trial of the former president on charges of inciting the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 13, 2021. U.S. Senate (TV/Handout via Reuters)
The U.S. Senate votes to acquit former U.S. President Donald Trump by a vote of 57 guilty to 43 not guilty, short of the 2/3s majority needed to convict, during the fifth day of the impeachment trial of the former president on charges of inciting the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 13, 2021. U.S. Senate (TV/Handout via Reuters)

An unexpected morning vote in favor of hearing witnesses threw the trial into confusion just as it was on the verge of concluding. But both sides ultimately reached a deal to instead enter into the record a statement from a Republican House lawmaker about a heated phone call on the day of the riot between Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy that Democrats say established Trump’s indifference to the violence.

The nearly weeklong trial has delivered a grim and graphic narrative of the riot and its consequences in ways that senators, most of whom fled for their own safety that day, acknowledge they are still coming to grips with.

House prosecutors have argued that Trump’s rallying cry to go to the Capitol and “fight like hell” for his presidency just as Congress was convening Jan. 6 to certify Joe Biden’s election victory was part of an orchestrated pattern of violent rhetoric and false claims that unleashed the mob. Five people died, including a rioter who was shot and a police officer.

Trump’s lawyers countered in a short three hours Friday that Trump’s words were not intended to incite the violence and that impeachment is nothing but a “witch hunt” designed to prevent him from serving in office again.

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