Maryland Sens. Benjamin L. Cardin (D) and Chris Van Hollen (D) issued stinging rebukes of former President Trump on Saturday after the Senate fell 10 vote shorts of convicting Trump in his second impeachment trial.
The Senate voted to acquit Trump on a charge of inciting the deadly Jan. 6 insurrectionist attack on the U.S. Capitol, concluding his second impeachment trial with the same verdict as his first impeachment.
In the 57-43 vote, seven Republicans joined every Senate Democrat and independent in support of convicting Trump.
Those GOP senators were 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 Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
In the evenly divided Senate chamber — which has 48 Democrats, two independents who usually vote with them, and 50 Republicans — it would have taken at least 17 Republican senators voting for conviction to reach the required two-thirds vote.
“President Trump stands alone as the only American president to be impeached twice by the House of Representatives because he is the only sitting American president in our 244-year history who incited a violent insurrection against our own government,” Cardin said on the Senate floor shortly after the vote. “President Trump’s second impeachment was the most bipartisan impeachment in American history, as was the conviction vote by several members of the President’s party. The facts and the record are clear that Donald Trump violated his oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Cardin was the third senator to speak on the floor after the impeachment vote, following Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Two of the Republicans who voted to convict, Burr and Toomey, have announced plans to retire next year. Three others, Collins, Cassidy and Sasse, were re-elected to a new six-year term in November.
Toomey told reporters after the vote that he did not make up his mind until after hearing the arguments. He said Trump’s actions leading to the second impeachment will form his legacy. “He’ll be remembered throughout history as the president who resorted to non-legal steps to try to hold onto power,” Toomey said.
In a statement after the vote, Trump blasted the impeachment process as “yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our country,” and said that the movement he created “has only just begun.”
“We have so much work ahead of us, and soon we will emerge with a vision for a bright, radiant, and limitless American future,” Trump said in the statement.
The U.S. House voted 232-197 on Jan. 13 to impeach Trump, just a week after the riot.
Saturday’s impeachment vote in the Senate followed several hours of closing arguments, which were delayed when House impeachment managers sought to subpoena at least one witness. That call for witnesses cleared a Senate vote, but was later dropped when both sets of lawyers agreed to add to the trial record a written statement by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Washington Republican.
Herrera Beutler had tweeted about a conversation she had with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, (R-Calif.), in which he told her about speaking by phone with Trump during the Capitol mayhem. She said McCarthy described Trump as siding with the rioters over lawmakers as the violence was unfolding.
Trump was charged with inciting the violent mob that lay siege to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, which disrupted the tallying of presidential Electoral College votes and resulted in five deaths, including a Capitol Police officer.
No other president had been tried on impeachment charges after leaving office, and no other president had faced impeachment twice. A conviction would have barred Trump from seeking public office again.
On the Senate floor, Cardin said that given the opportunity, “I would have voted to disqualify him from ever holding an office of trust again.”
The arguments for and against convicting Trump were outlined in the impeachment trial over just five days this week.
Using graphic videos of the riot, previously undisclosed security footage, and clips of Trump’s speeches, the nine House lawmakers who served as prosecutors argued that the insurrection was the foreseeable result of the former president inflaming and encouraging his supporters not to accept the election results.
“President Trump must be convicted for the safety and security of our democracy and our people,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, (D-Md.), the lead managers said.
Trump’s defense team argued that the House impeachment managers misconstrued Trump’s words, and that his calls for supporters to “fight” were no different from similar rhetorical calls from Democrats.
“In short, this impeachment has been a complete charade from beginning to end. The entire spectacle, a spectacle, has been nothing but the unhinged pursuit of a long standing political vendetta against Mr. Trump by the opposition party,” Trump attorney Michael van der Veen said.
After the vote, Republican senators who opposed conviction also blasted the impeachment process, while Democrats said they were taking necessary action against a president who they said violated his oath of office.
“The real purpose of this trial was to tar and feather not just the rioters, but anyone who supported the former President and any Senator who refuses to vote to convict,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in a statement.
But Van Hollen, in a statement, called that argument misguided.
“To my Republican colleagues who voted to acquit, I ask if Trump’s conduct was not a crime against the Constitution, what is?” he said. “Make no mistake – they have inflicted lasting harm on our nation in their failure to hold Donald Trump accountable; they have failed the test of history, and that is likely to haunt us in the years ahead.”
But Van Hollen went out to say he was “encouraged that this vote did not fall strictly on party lines” and expressed confidence that “the American people know the truth of Donald Trump’s guilt.”