The Senate has acquitted Donald Trump of inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, bringing his trial to a close and giving the former president a historic second victory in the court of impeachment. Both Arkansas Senators, Tom Cotton, and John Boozman voted Not Guilty.
Trump is the first president to be impeached twice, and he is also now twice acquitted as the majority of Republicans defended his actions. The Senate voted 57-43 that Trump is “not guilty” of incitement. Two-thirds of the Senate, or 67 votes, was needed for conviction.
House Democrats argued that Trump caused the violent attack by repeating for months the false claims that the election was stolen from him, and then calling on his supporters to “fight like hell” just before they laid siege to the Capitol. Democrats argued that Trump had “obvious intent” as he egged on supporters they said were primed for violence.
Trump’s lawyers argued that the trial was brought on by Democrats’ “hatred” of Trump and that it was unconstitutional because he had left office. They said the rioters acted on their own accord, despite Trump’s words. And they argued that Trump was protected by freedom of speech and to convict him for something he said would set a dangerous precedent.
The House impeached Trump before he left office for “incitement of insurrection” after the violent mob broke into the Capitol, destroyed property and hunted for lawmakers as they counted the presidential electoral votes. Five people died.
If Trump had been convicted, the Senate would have taken a second vote on whether to ban him from running for office again. Only two other presidents, Bill Clinton in 1999 and Andrew Johnson in 1868, have been impeached. Both were also acquitted.
Senator Boozman released the following statement on the vote to acquit Former President Donald Trump.
“January 6, 2021 will forever be remembered as one of the darkest days in our nation’s history. The attack on the U.S. Capitol by a violent mob was a threat to our democracy. Courageous law enforcement officers defended lives and safeguarded the constitutional duty of Congress to certify the presidential election.
While former President Donald Trump bears some responsibility for what happened that day, the perpetrators who planned, coordinated, and assaulted the Capitol building must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law and brought to justice.
I maintain my belief that the constitutional legitimacy of this impeachment trial was lacking, and therefore the outcome was expected. The Senate’s time would have been better spent considering solutions that improve COVID-19 vaccination deployment, advance economic recovery efforts and reopen our nation’s schools. We should immediately work together to achieve those critical objectives.”