Trump acquitted in trial amid rupture in GOP

WASHINGTON: Former US President Donald Trump was acquitted Saturday on charges of inciting a mob attack on the Capitol on January 6 amid signs that his stranglehold on the Republican Party is loosening.
Seven Republican Senators joined 50 Democrats in a 57-43 voting result, but it was not sufficient to reach the 2/3rd supermajority threshold (67/100) required to convict Trump. Despite overwhelming evidence of his culpability and a majority of Senators believing it, a minority 43 Republican lawmakers, many fearful of threats from Trump’s extremist supporters, chose to vote against conviction even though some of them openly said he is guilty of provoking violence.
Among them was Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell, who said Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office” and yet voted to acquit him.
“They stormed the Senate floor. They tried to hunt down the speaker of the House. They built a gallows and chanted about murdering the vice president. They did this because they had been fed wild, falsehoods by the most powerful man on earth because he was angry he lost an election. Former President Trump’s actions preceding the riot were a disgraceful dereliction of duty,” McConnell said while voting to acquit Trump on technical grounds.
In a preview of the upcoming political struggle in the Republican Party, he later warned that there could be criminal and civil litigation outside of Congressional action, and “former presidents are not immune from being accountable by either one.”
Trump meanwhile exulted in his acquittal despite a majority of lawmakers in both houses voting to impeach and convict him, escaping only because of rules requiring a supermajority.
“Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun. In the months ahead I have much to share with you, and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people,” he said in a statement.
Democrats blasted the duplicity of Republican lawmakers while praising the seven who had the courage to vote against Trump in the face of threats.
“While the final vote did not lead to a conviction, 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,” President Biden said in a statement.
The seven Republican Senators who voted to convict Trump are Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, Bill Cassidy, Richard Burr, Lisa Murkowski, Ben Sasse, and Pat Toomey.
Trump now holds the dubious record for being the only President in the country’s 245-year history to be impeached twice by the House of Representatives, and acquitted both times by the Senate, whose members are elected on the basis of geographic area (two per state regardless of population) and not on the basis of population or demographics.
While the outcome of the trial was widely expected, it has now exposed the fissures not just in the country but also in the Republican Party, with a struggle on the cards between moderates and extremists in the party.
In fact, a clarion call- and an implicit threat- has already been sounded by Trump supporting Qanon extremist lawmaker Marjorie Taylor Greene against her own party colleague Jamie Herrera Beutler, who voted to impeach Trump and also disclosed a phone call he had with a GOP Congressman that showed the President implicitly defending the mob attack on the Capitol.
“First voting to impeach innocent President Trump, then yapping to the press and throwing @GOPLeader under the bus, and now a tool as a witness for the Democrats running the circus trial. The Trump loyal 75 million are watching,” Taylor Greene tweeted on Saturday.

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