In a historic vote, the United States Senate has ruled that former President Donald Trump is not guilty of inciting insurrection.
In a landmark ruling, the Democrat prosecution team fell 10 votes short of a guilty verdict.
The outcome of this trial means that Mr Trump is officially not guilty of inciting the incidents that occurred in the Capitol Building, and is also free to run for public office in the future, should he wish.
The Senate oversaw a highly publicised 5-day trial, with each side trading blows in a highly partisan affair. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), oversaw the trial after Chief Justice John Roberts declared that it would be unconstitutional for him to do so.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) had cracked the whip earlier in the day, encouraging Republican senators to stay loyal to the former President. Conviction seemed unlikely from the beginning, and this was also reflected in the end vote, with only 7 GOP Senators breaking party lines.
“While a close call, I am persuaded that impeachments are a tool primarily of removal and we therefore lack jurisdiction,” McConnell wrote in an e-mail to colleagues. He added: “The Constitution makes perfectly clear that Presidential criminal misconduct while in office can be prosecuted after the President has left office, which in my view alleviates the otherwise troubling ‘January exception’ argument raised by the House.”
A Saturday conclusion of the trial had begun to look unlikely, after the Democrats asked for witness testimony. Eventually, a deal with the GOP was struck, which saw statements from witnesses going on record, but without testifying before Congress.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-New York) expressed his disdain at the final vote, proclaiming that “January 6th should live on in infamy”.
He continued: “He deserves to be convicted, and I believe he will be convicted in the court of public opinion. He deserves to be permanently discredited, and I believe he has been discredited in the eyes of the American people and in the judgment of history.”
In response to his own trial, Mr Trump proudly declared that his ‘America First’ movement “has only just begun”. He also dedicated his success to his lawyers, thanking them and also GOP Representatives in Congress for their loyalty to him.
“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. There has never been anything like it.”