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'Only just begun': Donald Trump thanks Senate Republicans for second impeachment acquittal

David Jackson, USA TODAY
·2 min read
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WASHINGTON – Donald Trump thanked Senate Republicans – most of them – for his impeachment acquittal on Saturday and proclaimed that the political movement he began with his 2016 election has "only just begun."

"We have so much work ahead of us, and soon we will emerge with a vision for a bright, radiant, and limitless American future," Trump said in a written statement shortly after the Senate impeachment verdict.

While thanking GOP allies, Trump – who is considering another presidential run – attacked Democrats by saying "it is a sad commentary on our times that one political party in America is given a free pass to denigrate the rule of law."

Trump did not mention the seven Republicans who voted to convict him on a charge of inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, which aimed to overturn his election loss to President Joe Biden. Five people died in the riot.

The final vote Saturday was 57-43. The Senate needed 67 votes to convict.

More: Live impeachment updates: In historic vote, Senate acquits Trump at second impeachment trial

More: Acquitted: Shared identity and fear of Trump kept most Republicans in line on impeachment

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump head for Marine One on the South Lawn on Jan. 20, their last morning in the White House.
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump head for Marine One on the South Lawn on Jan. 20, their last morning in the White House.

Democrats said Trump has never acknowledged responsibility for the violence at the Capitol and accused most Republicans of letting him get away with it.

"The most despicable act any president has ever committed, and the majority of Republicans cannot summon the courage or the morality to condemn it," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

In his written statement, Trump thanked his legal team, as well as House and Senate Republicans who opposed impeachment.

Decrying impeachment as "the greatest witch hunt in the history of our Country," Trump said that "no president has ever gone through anything like it."

Trump also said his political movement "has only just begun," and "in the months ahead I have much to share with you."

Republicans who voted to convict Trump – a verdict that could have barred him from holding public office again – condemned his conduct in stirring up supporters to fight the election result.

“By what he did and by what he did not do, President Trump violated his oath of office to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States," said Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.

Even some Republicans who supported acquittal denounced the former president.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., while still voting to acquit, said Trump apparently intended "to torch our institutions on the way out."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Impeachment trial: Donald Trump thanks Senate GOP for acquittal