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Senate acquits Trump in impeachment proceedings

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Democratic House impeachment managers leave the Senate Chamber of the Capitol Saturday afternoon at the end of the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. From left, are Rep. David Cicilline, D-Rhode Island; Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif.; Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Maryland; and Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo. The Senate acquitted Trump 57-43. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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New Mexico senators vote to convict

The two U.S. senators from New Mexico voted to convict former President Donald Trump Saturday afternoon at the conclusion of impeachment proceedings, issuing statements that they believe he intentionally sought to cause a violent riot and overturn the presidential election results, but Trump was acquitted 57-43.

Sens. Martin Heinrich, D-Albuquerque, and Ben Ray Lujan, D-Nambe, both voted to convict on the single article of impeachment before them, that Trump incited protestors to invade the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 6 as congressional leaders were gathered inside to certify the 2020 presidential election results.

The protests turned into a violent riot that ended with five deaths, including a Capitol Police officer who was fatally injured by the crowd, and of a protestor attempting to force her way into the Capitol building who was shot by police. Three other deaths resulted in the following days due to health conditions and injuries arising during the riots.

Trump issued a statement thanking the lawyers who defended him during the five-day proceedings and the U.S. representatives and senators who had supported him since the vote to impeach occurred in the U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 13, with 232 representatives voting for it and 197 voting against it.

“This has been yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in history,” part of Trump’s statement read. “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.”

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His statement also included that the Make America Great Movement had just begun and that he intended to “share” his vision for the future in the coming days.

But Heinrich and Lujan said they were convinced that Trump acted with intent on Jan. 6 as part of his efforts to overturn the will of U.S. voters that put President Joe Biden into the White House.

“I took no pleasure in voting to convict President Trump for inciting an insurrection against the U.S. government,” Lujan posted on social media. “However, there is no doubt that the former president did everything in his power to overturn the results of the 2020 election.”

Lujan added, “A few days before the attack on the Capitol, I took an oath to ‘support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.’ I upheld that oath today, and I will continue to honor the trust that New Mexicans have placed in me.”

Heinrich’s statement said that Trump’s actions involved much more than his speech on Jan. 6 that encouraged protestors to march on the Capitol. Heinrich said Trump also was responsible for months of repeating a “completely baseless lie of election fraud, over and over and over again” and for years of “encouraging violence by White supremacists and extremist groups like the Proud Boys.”

Heinrich said that only the “dedication” of the Capitol and Washington D.C., prevented harm to the elected officials who were gathered Jan. 6 to certify the results of the presidential election.

Heinrich also recounted the fear he and others experienced during the riots.

“We have to stand up to this bully and take back our nation governed by laws and elections,” Heinrich’s statement indicated. “The best way to do that was to convict Donald Trump for his crimes and relegate him to the dark corner of history where he belongs. I voted to do just that today.”

The seven Republican senators who joined all the Democrats in the Senate to convict were Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania.

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said he could not vote to impeach because Trump is no longer president, but he said in remarks on Saturday that Trump is “practically and morally responsible’” for the insurrection.

The Saturday vote represented Trump’s second acquittal in impeachment proceedings. He also was acquitted by the Senate on Feb. 5, 2020, on two articles of impeachment of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. Those were related to foreign interference with the 2018 presidential elections that brought him into the White House. Trump is the only U.S. president to be impeached twice.