‘Make America Great Again has only just begun’: Trump defiant after acquittal

US News

Former US president Donald Trump has been found not guilty in his impeachment trial.

A total of 43 senators voted ‘not guilty’ which passed the two thirds majority required for his acquittal.

Seven members of Mr Trump’s own party voted ‘guilty’.

In a statement after the trial, Mr Trump said it was “a sad commentary on our times” that the Democrats had been given a “free pass to transform justice into a tool of political vengeance, and persecute, blacklist, cancel and suppress all people and viewpoints with whom or which they disagree”.

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He added: “I always have, and always will, be a champion for the unwavering rule of law, the heroes of law enforcement, and the right of Americans to peacefully and honourably debate the issues of the day without malice and without hate. “

Michael van der Veen, Mr Trump’s lawyer said: “This whole spectacle has been nothing but the unhinged pursuit of a long-standing political vendetta against Mr Trump by the opposition party.”

Mr Trump had been charged with “incitement of insurrection” over last month’s violence when the US Capitol was stormed by his supporters, just as Congress was attempting to ratify the 2020 election result.

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Just before the 6 January riots, thousands of his supporters gathered at a “Save America” rally on the National Mall, only minutes’ walk from the Capitol.

It had been organised to challenge the election result and Joe Biden’s win.

They listened as Mr Trump spoke to them for 70 minutes, and at one point exhorted them to “fight like hell – or you’re not going to have a country anymore”.

The attack began moments after he took the applause.

But Mr Trump’s defence team had launched a blistering attack on the Democratic-led hearing, describing it as a “unjust, unconstitutional witch-hunt”.

Michael van der Veen told the hearing Mr Trump was not to blame and that he had told his supporters to protest peacefully.

They argued his speech at the rally was “ordinary political rhetoric” and was constitutionally protected free speech.

It is the first time in history that a US president has been impeached twice.

The first attempt to convict Mr Trump in January 2020, for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, saw him acquitted by a majority of 52 votes to 48 for one charge and 53-47 for the second.

Only one Republican voted against him on one of the charges.

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