DONALD TRUMP has been acquitted of at an impeachment trial where he stood accused of inciting the deadly violence that unfolded during riots in Washington DC last January.
Five died, including one police officer, during the invasion of the Capitol Building on January 6.
The insurrection came just hours after Trump had urged supporters at a rally in Washington DC to “fight like hell” to overturn the result of his election defeat to Joe Biden.
As a result, the former US President was impeached for an unprecedented second time.
But despite 57 of 100 senators voting guilty – including seven Republicans - the Democrats failed to gain the two-thirds majority required to secure a conviction.
It nevertheless represents the highest ever bipartisan support for conviction in any of the previous four impeachment trials in US history.
Speaking after avoid conviction for a second time, Trump welcomed his acquittal, dismissing the charges as a “witch hunt” and adding that his political movement “has only just begun”.
An acquittal had always seemed likely given that many Republican senators had already indicated they would not vote to convict the former President.
That outcome became ever more likely when the Senate opted not to vote to call witnesses in the trial.
Trump’s legal team had earlier presented their defence in less than three hours with attorney, Michael Van Der Veen, branding the prosecution’s case as "absurd".
“No thinking person could seriously believe that the president’s January 6th speech on The Ellipse was in any way an incitement to violence or insurrection. The suggestion is patently absurd,” he said.
“To claim that the president wished, desired or encouraged lawlessness or violent behaviour is a preposterous and monstrous lie.”
Despite escaping conviction, Trump was nevertheless condemned by the Republican leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, in a statement issued following the trial.
Though he supported the acquittal, McConnell condemned Trump’s behaviour as a “disgraceful dereliction of duty.”
"There's no question that president Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day," McConnell said.
He claimed he chose vote not guilty because former presidents were not eligible for impeachment trials.
If such a precedent were followed, McConnell claimed any private citizen could be impeached and left ineligible for public office.