'WITCH HUNT': Trump's message to supporters after impeachment acquittal

Yahoo News Staff
·4-min read

Former US president Donald Trump has welcomed his second impeachment acquittal and says his movement "has only just begun".

Trump in a lengthy statement on Saturday (local time) thanked his lawyers and his defenders in the House and Senate, who he said "stood proudly for the Constitution we all revere and for the sacred legal principles at the heart of our country".

He slammed the trial as "yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our country".

Donald Trump speaks to members of the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on January 20, 2021.
Donald Trump has released a statement calling the impeachment a 'witch hunt' after he was acquitted. Source: Getty Images

The former president told his supporters "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.

While Trump was acquitted by the Senate, seven Republicans voted to convict him, making it the most bipartisan vote in the history of presidential impeachments.

The 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 January 6 shortly after they heard him deliver an incendiary speech.

In the vote, seven of the 50 Senate Republicans joined the chamber's unified Democrats in favouring conviction.

Demonstrators walk through the US Capitol after breaching barricades to the building during a protest outside.
Trump supporters storm through the US Capitol after getting through barricades outside. Source: Getty Images

Trump left office on January 20, so impeachment could not be used to remove him from power.

But Democrats had hoped to secure a conviction to hold him responsible for a siege that left five people including a police officer dead and to set the stage for a vote to bar him from ever serving in public office again.

Given the chance to hold office in the future, they argued, Trump would not hesitate to encourage political violence again.

McConnell's loaded words for Trump despite 'not guilty' vote

Trump's lawyers argued his words at the rally were protected by his constitutional right to free speech and said he was not given due process in the proceedings.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who voted "not guilty", offered scathing remarks about the former president after the verdict.

"There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day," he said.

"The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president."

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump on stage after speaking to supporters at Joint Base Andrews before boarding Air Force One.
Trump and his wife, Melania, on stage after speaking to supporters at Joint Base Andrews on the day of Joe Biden's inauguration. Source: Getty Images

The drama on the Senate floor unfolded against a backdrop of gaping divisions in a pandemic-weary United States along political, racial, socioeconomic and regional lines.

The trial provided more partisan warfare even as Democratic President Joe Biden, who took office on January 20 after defeating Trump in the November election, called for healing and unity after his predecessor's four turbulent years in power and a caustic election campaign.

Seventy-one percent of American adults, including nearly half of all Republicans, believe Trump was at least partially responsible for starting the Capitol assault, but only about half of the country thought Trump should be convicted of inciting insurrection, according to an Ipsos poll conducted for Reuters.

Trump, 74, continues to hold a grip on his party with a right-wing populist appeal and "America First" message. The wealthy businessman-turned-politician has considered running for president again in 2024.

He is only the third president ever to be impeached by the House of Representatives – a step akin to a criminal indictment – as well as the first to be impeached twice and the first to face an impeachment trial after leaving office.

But the Senate still has never convicted an impeached president.

with AAP and Reuters

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