Shortly after the Senate voted to acquit former President Donald Trump on a charge of inciting a riot at the U.S. Capitol, President Joe Biden spoke out on the matter, focusing on the violence of the mob attack and what it meant for the country going forward.
“While the final vote did not lead to a conviction, the substance of the charge is not in dispute,” Biden said in a statement released by the White House Saturday evening.
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The Senate voted to acquit Trump in a 57-43 vote, with seven Republicans joining all Democrats in a vote to convict. The vote fell 10 short of the necessary two-thirds of the chamber for a guilty verdict.
“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,” Biden said in the statement.
After voting to acquit the former president, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., gave a speech squarely blaming Trump for the Capitol riot.
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“There’s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. No question about it,” he said after the Senate vote. “The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president.”
McConnell added, however, that he believes Trump is not “constitutionally not eligible for conviction” as he was no longer in office when senators voted on whether to convict or acquit.
Biden’s statement opened with a brief eulogy to Brian Sicknick, the Capitol Police officer who died from injuries in the Jan. 6 riot.
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“Tonight, I am thinking about those who bravely stood guard that January day. I’m thinking about all those who lost their lives, all those whose lives were threatened, and all those who are still today living with terror they lived through that day,” Biden said.
“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,” Biden said.
“That is how we end this uncivil war and heal the very soul of our nation. That is the task ahead,” Biden said.