WASHINGTON, D.C., February 13, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – The United States Senate voted 57 to 43 to convict former President Donald Trump of “inciting” the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, a simple majority but too few to meet the Constitution’s threshold for barring a president from seeking office in the future.
Protesters broke into the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6 after the “March to Save America” rally, where Trump said supporters would march “over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard,” where “we're going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen-and-women” who were meeting to formally object to the certification of electoral votes from a handful of states.
Viral videos showed protesters engaging in physical altercations with police, pushing against security barricades, breaking through a window, trespassing in congressional offices, and climbing on walls, causing the vote certification to be suspended and lawmakers to be evacuated from the chambers. While many were let in by police and simply walked the halls after the initial breach, there were several deaths, including a protester shot by police, a protester trampled by other protesters, a police officer whose cause of death remains unknown, and others due to unspecified “medical emergencies.”
The march on the Capitol was a pre-planned part of the rally, and the violence was started by people who either left Trump’s speech early or skipped it entirely, but House Democrats quickly moved to impeach Trump for supposedly “inciting” the violence.
“In the months preceding the Joint Session [to count the electoral votes of the 2020 presidential election], President Trump repeatedly issued false statements asserting that the Presidential election results were the product of widespread fraud and should not be accepted by the American people or certified by State or Federal officials,” the Democrat article of impeachment reads. “Shortly before the Joint Session commenced, President Trump, addressed a crowd at the Ellipse in Washington, DC.”
“There, he reiterated false claims that ‘we won this election, and we won it by a landslide,’” the article continues. “He also willfully made statements that, in context, encouraged—and foreseeably resulted in—lawless action at the Capitol, such as: ‘if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore’. Thus incited by President Trump, members of the crowd he had addressed, in an attempt to, among other objectives, interfere with the Joint Session’s solemn constitutional duty to certify the results of the 2020 Presidential election, unlawfully breached and vandalized the Capitol, injured and killed law enforcement personnel, menaced Members of Congress, the Vice President, and Congressional personnel, and engaged in other violent, deadly, destructive, and seditious acts.”
Trump’s legal team responded by arguing that the Constitution “requires that a person actually hold office to be impeached,” that Trump did not incite violence but instead “exercised his First Amendment right under the Constitution to express his belief that the election results were suspect”; and that Trump’s January 6 call to “fight like hell” was merely championing “the need to fight for election security in general,” and notes that objecting to certification of electoral votes is nothing new and has not previously been considered grounds for impeachment, as evidence by Democrat members of Congress repeatedly doing so in past elections.
The attorneys also counter with a few accusations of their own, including that the House of Representatives “deprived the 45th President of due process of law in rushing to issue the Article of Impeachment” without investigation or committee review, and that, instead of Chief Justice John Roberts presiding over the Senate trial, it is “being supervised by a partisan member of the Senate with a long history of public remarks adverse to the 45th President,” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT).
As expected, Trump lost the vote to dismiss the impeachment early as unconstitutional, as expected in a chamber narrowly controlled by Democrats, but his opponents failed to amass the 67 votes necessary for conviction, which was also expected. No Democrats voted to acquit Trump.
The outcome means that Trump may legally choose to run for president in 2024 if he so chooses, though whether he will (or whether conservatives move on to other potential Republican nominees) remains to be seen. Trump will be 78 years old in 2024.