Heather Cox Richardson | Letters from an American | February 13
Today the Senate acquitted former president Donald Trump of the charge of inciting an insurrection. Fifty-seven senators said he was guilty; 43 said he was not guilty. An impeachment conviction requires a two-thirds majority of the Senate, so he was acquitted, but not before seven members of his own party voted to convict him.
The only real surprise today was this morning, when five Republicans joined 50 Democrats to vote in favor of calling witnesses.
That vote came after Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) last night released a statement recounting an angry conversation between House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Trump during the violence, in which Trump refused to call off the rioters and appeared to taunt McCarthy by telling him that the rioters were “more upset about the election than you are.” Herrera Beutler’s statement suggested that Trump had deliberately abandoned Vice President Mike Pence and the lawmakers to the insurrectionists, although Trump’s lawyer had definitively declared during the trial that Trump had not been told that Vice President Mike Pence was in danger.
Heather Cox Richardson | Letters from an American | February 12
Today was the the fourth day of former president Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial. The president’s legal team attempted to answer the arguments of the House impeachment managers, who outlined the horrific events of January 6, 2021, when a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol while a joint session of Congress was counting the certified electoral votes to make Democrat Joe Biden president and blamed the former president for inciting the insurrectionists.
The House impeachment managers had put together a damning presentation over the past two days, leaving Trump’s lawyers with the goal simply of providing enough cover for Republican senators to vote to acquit. They had 16 hours to present their case.
They took less than four.
Led by a new spokesman, Michael van der Veen, a former personal injury lawyer from Philadelphia, Trump’s lawyers brought to the floor of the Senate the same tactics the former president used for his four years in office. Rather than engaging in substantive discussion of the merits of the case—which, in fairness, ran pretty heavily against them—they delivered sound bites for right-wing media. They lied about facts, insisted that Trump’s language leading to the riot was the same sort of rhetoric all politicians use, insulted and talked back to the senators, and claimed Trump was the victim of years of witch hunts by Democrats who hate him.