On the floor of the very chamber that was desecrated by his supporters just 38 days ago, Donald Trump has again been acquitted in an impeachment trial. Only seven Republicans crossed the aisle to join with a unanimous Democratic Party, falling short of the 67 votes required.
The seven Senate Republicans who voted to convict Donald Trump were Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse and Pat Toomey; Burr and Toomey have both announced that they were retiring at the end of their terms.
It was widely expected that Donald Trump would be acquitted, with it emerging in recent days that his defence team had met with a number of Republican Senators to discuss strategy; an unprecedented situation where the jury is working with the defence.
The trial was the shortest in Senate history, lasting only five days (his previous trial, in 2020, lasted three weeks) with only one charge for the Senate to consider.
It does not mean that the trial was not significant, however. Although Trump was not convicted, meaning that he can run for president again in 2024, the trial does set a precedent that former presidents can face trial for impeachment, with a vote held on the opening day of the trial as to the constitutionality of the trial.
Throughout the trial, the house managers (the prosecution) showed video footage of Senators and members of the House being forced to flee the Capitol building, just moments before the Senate chamber was stormed by insurrectionists. The moving footage from the riot clearly moved some Republicans, with a number of them also caught up in the attack. The rioters, in one video, were seen searching for Vice President Mike Pence, who was ushered out of the building.
Another moving tape saw a police officer rushing to aide Senator Mitt Romney, with the Republican Senator walking towards an area that insurrectionists were entering, before being stopped and told to run the other way.
Although the outcome was largely expected, the acquittal of the president – despite many considering he was guilty of inciting his supporters that day – sets a new standard for presidential behaviour. House Representative, Jamie Raskin, said the acquittal is “setting a new terrible standard for presidential misconduct”.
Although he was acquitted, the videos shown of the insurrection at the trial and the impact of the January 6 events, mean that even if he does run again, he may be damaged. His polling his now at just 39% amongst the American population and although he still commands the support of eight in ten Republican’s, party officials may rally around another candidate if he were to run again.
He can run again, but this trial might have ended his chances of another shot.