President Donald Trump gestures to the crowd as he arrives to speak at a campaign rally. File
Gulf Today Report
Donald Trump was acquitted of inciting the horrific attack on the US Capitol, concluding a historic impeachment trial that spared him the first-ever conviction of a current or former US president but exposed the fragility of America’s democratic traditions and left a divided nation to come to terms with the violence sparked by his defeated presidency.
Barely a month since the deadly Jan.6 riot that stunned the world, the Senate convened for a rare weekend session to deliver its Saturday verdict, voting while armed National Guard troops continued to stand their posts outside the iconic building.
The quick trial, the nation’s first of a former president, showed in raw and emotional detail how perilously close the invaders had come to destroying the nation's deep tradition of a peaceful transfer of presidential power after Trump had refused to concede the election. Rallying outside the White House, he unleashed a mob of supporters to "fight like hell” for him at the Capitol just as Congress was certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s victory. As hundreds stormed the building, some in tactical gear engaging in bloody combat with police, lawmakers fled for their lives. Five people died, according to the Associated Press.
The verdict, on a vote of 57-43, is all but certain to influence not only the former president's political future but that of the senators sworn to deliver impartial justice as jurors. Seven Republicans joined all Democrats to convict, but it was far from the two-third threshold required.
The outcome after the uprising leaves unresolved the nation’s wrenching divisions over Trump's brand of politics that led to the most violent domestic attack on one of America's three branches of government.
"Senators, we are in a dialogue with history, a conversation with our past, with a hope for our future,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa.., one of the House prosecutors in closing arguments.
"What we do here, what is being asked of each of us here, in this moment, will be remembered."
Trump, unrepentant, welcomed his second impeachment acquittal and said his movement "has only just begun.” He slammed the trial as "yet another phase of the greatest witchhunt in the history of our country.”
Though he was acquitted of the sole charge of incitement of insurrection, it was easily the largest number of Senators to ever vote to find a president of their own party guilty of an impeachment count of high crimes and misdemeanours.
Voting to find Trump guilty were GOP Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania.
Even after voting to acquit, the Republican leader Mitch McConnell condemned the former president as "practically and morally responsible” for the insurrection. McConnell contended Trump could not be convicted because he was gone from the White House.
In a statement issued several hours after the verdict, Biden highlighted the bipartisan nature of the vote to convict and McConnell’s strong criticism of Trump. In keeping with his stated desire to see the country overcome its divisions, Biden said everyone, especially the nation’s leaders, have a duty "to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.”
"That is how we end this uncivil war and heal the very soul of our nation. That is the task ahead. And it’s a task we must undertake together,” said Biden, who had hardly weighed in on the proceedings during the week.
Prolonged proceedings could have been especially damaging for Biden's new presidency, significantly delaying his emerging legislative agenda. Coming amid the searing COVID-19 crisis, the Biden White House is trying to rush pandemic relief through Congress.
Biden was spending the weekend with family at the presidential retreat in Camp David, Maryland.
The nearly weeklong trial has delivered a grim and graphic narrative of the riot and its consequences in ways that Senators, most of whom fled for their own safety that day, acknowledge they are still coming to grips with.
House prosecutors have argued that Trump was the "inciter in chief," stoking a months-long campaign with an orchestrated pattern of violent rhetoric and false claims they called the "big lie” that unleashed the mob. Five people died, including a rioter who was shot and a police officer.
Trump’s lawyers countered that his words were not intended to incite the violence and that impeachment is nothing but a "witchhunt” designed to prevent him from serving in office again.
Security arrangements for President Joe Biden’s inauguration mirrored the swearing in ceremonies of President Abraham Lincoln in 1861, when the US was on the brink of civil war, and 1865,
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The UAE expressed its sincere condolences and sympathy to the government and people of the French Republic and to the families of the victims of this heinous crime, as well as its wishes for a speedy recovery for the injured.