US senators have voted 57-43 in favour of acquitting former President Donald Trump on an account of incitement to insurrection, related to his actions ahead of and during the 6 January "Stop the Steal" rally and the subsequent storming of the Capitol by pro-Trump protesters, who sought to prevent the certification of the election results declaring Joe Biden president.
In the final tally, 57 US senators endorsed and 43 rejected a single article of impeachment. Seven Republicans sided with the Democrat senators in a vote to convict Trump.
The conviction required a two-thirds majority vote - of at least 67 out of 100 Senators.
'Graphic Videos' of Capitol Riot and Brief Presentation of Trump's Defence
The impeachment trial vote comes after five days spent by the Senators hearing positions and arguments of the Democrat impeachment managers and Trump's legal defence team.
The Democrats focused their arguments on several matters – they tried to prove Trump's culpability by counting the number of times he used the word "fight" in his rally speech, and by showing a number of videos of the Capitol being stormed, some of which have never been shown. The Democrats emphasised that some of the videos were "graphic" and recommended US citizens forbid their underage children to watch the proceedings.
Unlike the Democrats, Trump's defence spent only a fraction of time allocated to them for their statements - taking only three hours rather than the 16 hours they were allowed to build the case in Trump's defence. They notably played a video of dozens of Democrats vowing to "fight" Republicans and Trump on various issues, which have never been classified as an incitement to violence or insurrection – an open jab against one of the Democrats' arguments.
The team for the former president also put itself in the spotlight on the first day of the trial by giving an arguably unimpressive opening speech, which, according to some observers, seemed at times unrelated to the topic of the case.
Roots of Trump's Second Impeachment Trial
The impeachment trial, the second one in Trump's single term as US president but concluded already after he had left the office, was triggered by the House Democrats, who alleged that Trump was responsible for the actions of the rioters storming the Congress. They insisted that Trump provoked his supporters with his claims of massive election fraud, which he failed to prove in courts, and his speech at the rally in Washington DC, which preceded the Capitol riot.
Trump vehemently denied his responsibility for the actions of the protesters. The former president during his address on 6 January urged supporters to oppose Joe Biden's nomination "peacefully" and was among the first to condemn the violence at the Congress' building, which claimed the life of five people, including one Capitol police officer.
Despite that, most Democrats in both chambers, as well as several Republicans, condemned Trump's actions and accused him of triggering the riot with calls to "fight" the election result "like hell" and ostracising his own Vice-President Mike Pence for refusing to stop their certification at Congress.
In the wake of the controversial rally, several hundred pro-Trump protesters besieged the Congress building, smashing windows and eventually breaking in, forcing lawmakers to postpone the process of certification. The lawmakers and Vice-President Pence were hastily evacuated from the Capitol as rioters marched through its corridors chanting "where are here to count the f**king votes" and calling out the names of Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. More than 200 protesters, who ransacked the Congress corridors and several of its offices, were later arrested by the law enforcement.