Donald Trump reacts to impeachment acquittal with Joe Biden lamenting ‘sad chapter’ in US history

Donald Trump reacts to impeachment acquittal with Joe Biden lamenting ‘sad chapter’ in US history

DONALD TRUMP and Joe Biden have reacted in predictably contrasting style to the former US President being found not guilty at an impeachment trial. 

Though the final vote in the Senate came in at  57 "guilty" and 43 "not guilty", the Democrats failed to achieve the two-thirds majority required to secure a conviction. 

That came despite seven Republican senators - Senators Sasse, Romney, Burr, Collins, Murkowski, Toomey and Cassidy – backing the charge of incitement. 

Speaking in a statement issued after the trial, Trump described the impeachment proceedings as "a sad commentary on our times" and claimed the Democrats had received 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". 

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. 

"No president has ever gone through anything like it, and it continues because our opponents cannot forget the almost 75 million people, the highest number ever for a sitting president, who voted for us just a few short months ago." 

US President Joe Biden, meanwhile, reflected on the acquittal as a reminder of the “fragile” nature of democracy and the importance of defending truth. 

"While the final vote did not lead to a conviction, the substance of the charge is not in dispute," he said in a statement. 

"Even those opposed to the conviction, like Senate Minority Leader McConnell, believe Donald Trump was guilty of a 'disgraceful dereliction of duty' and 'practically and morally responsible for provoking' the violence unleashed on the Capitol. 

"This sad chapter in our history has reminded us that democracy is fragile. That it must always be defended. That we must be ever vigilant. That violence and extremism has no place in America. And that each of us has a duty and responsibility as Americans, and especially as leaders, to defend the truth and to defeat the lies." 

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Trump had stood accused of "incitement of insurrection" following the ugly scenes in Washington DC last month, where his supporters violently stormed Capitol Building while Congress was busy trying to ratify Biden’s 2020 election win. 

Earlier that same day, Trump spoke for 70 minutes during a “Save America” rally on the National Mall, just minutes from the Capitol. 

The rally, which was organised to challenge the result, saw Trump tell those present to  "fight like hell - or you're not going to have a country anymore". 

Within an hour, the attack had begun. 

Despite this, Trump’s defence team dismissed the impeachment proceedings as an “unjust, unconstitutional witch-hunt". 

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

Much of their defence rested on the idea that Trump’s speech was s "ordinary political rhetoric" and was protected as free speech under the constitution. 

Despite the victory Republican senate minority leader Mitch McConnell condemned Trump over his role in the attack, branding him “morally responsible.” 

Donald Trump

McConnell nevertheless voted not to impeach, arguing that the senate had no jurisdiction over a former president. 

Despite being the first US president to be impeached twice, Trump has hinted at plans to return to the political stage soon. 

He said: "Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun. 

"In the months ahead I have much to share with you, and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people. 

"There has never been anything like it!"