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Opinion | Senate Republicans fail to convict Trump, despite admitting his guilt

Rep. Terri Sewell said history will not judge those Republican senators kindly.

Supporters of President Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP PHOTO/JOSE LUIS MAGANA)

Republicans in the U.S. Senate allowed Donald Trump to escape conviction on impeachment charges for his role in the Jan. 6 deadly riots, with seven Republican members joining 50 Democrats in voting to convict Trump — the most bipartisan vote for impeachment conviction in American history.

That failed vote came despite overwhelming evidence. Even jurors who voted to acquit admitted his culpability in inciting the riots. 

There’s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said following Saturday evening’s vote, in which McConnell voted to acquit the former president. “The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president, and having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories and reckless hyperbole which the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet Earth.”

Regardless, 43 Senate Republicans voted to acquit Trump, with their reasoning ranging from believing he didn’t incite the riots to the belief that it was unconstitutional to impeach a former president. The latter was the reasoning favored by McConnell, who also blocked the start of Trump’s second impeachment trial until after the Jan. 20 inauguration of President Joe Biden. 

It was an infuriating, if unsurprising, result for congressional Democrats, who put forth a convincing case for conviction, tying Trump’s words directly to the rioters’ actions through video footage mostly taken by the rioters themselves. The House impeachment managers’ case was widely praised by pundits on both sides of the aisle. 

Still, it wasn’t enough to overcome the partisan loyalty. 

“There is no doubt that President Donald Trump sowed the seeds of disinformation, hatred and violence that was directly responsible for the armed insurgents who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6th,” said Rep. Terrie Sewell, D-Alabama. “It is a sad day for our democracy when the majority of Senate Republicans choose not to hold President Trump accountable simply because of a technical process argument that has been debunked by constitutional scholars. GOP Senators chose party and loyalty over the Constitution and our democracy.”

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Sewell went on to predict that the senators who voted to acquit Trump will be viewed poorly by future generations and lamented the lack of justice that will cause future harm to the country.  

“History will not look favorably upon those who refused their constitutional and moral obligation to convict Donald Trump of his seditious actions,” Sewell said. “Justice has not been served, and our failure to meet this historic moment will be judged by future generations. As we move forward as a Nation, we must remember that there is no healing without accountability.”

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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