President Joe Biden said on Saturday that the Senate’s acquittal of former President Donald Trump for inciting an insurrection was a reminder that democracy was fragile, and every American had a duty to defend the truth. “This sad chapter in our history has reminded us that democracy is fragile,” Biden said in a statement issued hours after the Senate failed to muster the two-thirds majority needed to convict Trump.
Biden noted that 57 senators – including a record seven Republicans – voted to find Trump guilty, following a bipartisan vote by the House of Representatives to impeach the Republican former president. “While the final vote did not lead to a conviction, the substance of the charge is not in dispute.
“This sad chapter in our history has reminded us that democracy is fragile. That it must always be defended. That we must be ever vigilant. That violence and extremism has no place in America. And that each of us has a duty and responsibility as Americans, and especially as leaders, to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.” The Democratic president said the task at hand was to end what he called “an uncivil war and heal the very soul of our nation.”
The Republican Spin
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called Donald Trump “practically and morally responsible” for his supporters’ deadly attack on the Capitol, only moments after voting to acquit the Republican former president on an impeachment charge of inciting the melee. “There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day,” said McConnell, who along with the rest of the Congress and former Vice President Mike Pence fled the mob that descended on the Capitol on Jan. 6. “The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president,” McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor.
McConnell says Trump ‘morally responsible’ for Capitol riot
The question we must answer is not whether President Trump said and did things that were reckless and encouraged the mob. We witnessed and believe that happened,” Senator Rob Portman in a statement. “Our decision was based on my reading of the Constitution,” the Ohio Republican added. “I believe the Framers understood that convicting a former president and disqualifying him or her from running again pulls people further apart.”
In comments that echoed the prosecution’s case, McConnell said Trump had orchestrated “an intensifying crescendo of conspiracy theories” and described the former president as “determined to either overturn the voters’ decision or else torch our institutions on the way out.”
McConnell suggested that Trump could still face criminal prosecution for his acts.
“President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office as an ordinary citizen,” McConnell said. “He didn’t get away with anything. Yet.”
The impeachment did not prevail. But Trump still lost. And as the power of that loss reverberates, so should the honors to the day’s heroes of day: the brilliant and eloquent House managers — led by Representative Jamie Raskin—and the seven senators who wrote their own profiles in courage.