Former President Donald Trump was acquitted Saturday in a 57-43 vote by the U.S. Senate on a charge of incitement of insurrection related to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Democrats needed 17 Republicans to join them to convict Trump and hold a separate vote to bar him from running for office again.
Talking with NBC10 Boston following Trump's acquittal, Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey said one of his biggest concerns is that Trump can run again in 2024.
“For four years, the Republican Party has given Donald Trump a get-out-of-jail-free card and today Donald Trump cashed it in," Markey said. "He is now free to continue on inside of the Republican Party as their leader but without any constraints.”
Markey watched the trial unfold over five days, and spoke with NBC10 Boston just minutes after leaving the Senate Chamber.
"Donald Trump, unfortunately, is a happy man," Markey said. "Now, he's free to do whatever he wants, say whatever he wants, do whatever he wants, as he pursues the Republican nomination for the presidency in 2024."
Only seven Republicans voted Saturday to convict Trump of inciting the horrific attack on the nation's Capitol, including Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.
Collins spoke on the Senate floor following her vote on the article of impeachment, calling the Capitol riot "a culmination of a steady stream of provocations by President Trump that were aimed at overturning the results of the presidential election."
The other six GOP senators voting to find Trump guilty were: Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania.
The seven senators were praised by New England lawmakers, including Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, who thanked them for "having the courage to do what was right," and Massachusetts' Congressman Seth Moulton, who said they were the "few brave exceptions" to the Republican Party that cowered "in fear for their political futures."
Rep. Moulton, who represents Massachusetts's 6th congressional district, said it sadly came as no surprise that so many GOP senators "once again capitulated to Trump."
"History will be the final judge of their moral weakness," Moulton said in a tweet.
Congresswoman Rose DeLauro, who represents Connecticut's third district, thanked "the seven courageous Republicans who put the people above party."
"Future generations will remember those who aided and abetted the former President and refused to stand up to his tyranny," she said in a statement.
Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed, who voted to impeach Trump, said he is grateful to the seven Republicans who crossed party lines to acknowledge the former president's wrongdoing.
"Donald Trump betrayed our democracy and systemically incited insurrection," he wrote. "Today, I voted with 56 other U.S. Senators to declare his guilt."
Reaction from New England lawmakers was both swift and damning for the Republican senators who did not vote to convict the former president. And many stated that, despite the acquittal, they believe Trump is guilty.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley, of Massachusetts, said the "R's in the Senate" demonstrated "shameful cowardice."
She called Trump's impeachment trial a "referendum on white supremacist violence," and said the 43 Republican senators who voted to not convict Trump should be expelled for condoning it.
Rep. Katherine Clark, who represents the 5th congressional district of Massachusetts, called Trump a traitor who used white supremacy and violence to threaten democracy in America.
"This is his legacy," she wrote. "Every Senator who voted to acquit is cloaked in the same dark shadow."
Congressman Jim Himes, representing Connecticut's fourth district, and former Massachusetts' Congressman Joe Kennedy III shared similar sentiments on Twitter.
"History will long remember the damage done by Donald trump. The 43 United States Senators who enabled him should have their legacy cemented with him," Kennedy wrote.
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"Donald Trump cares for nothing but himself. Our democracy means nothing to him if it interferes with his gratification. That millions of Americans admire him is a sickness in the land," Himes shared. "The Republican senators and congressmen who defended him have poisoned their legacies."
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, stated that Trump "incited a mob of domestic terrorists to attack our Capitol and overturn the election," and said our democracy needs to be stronger than those who voted to acquit him.
"Even 7 Senate Republicans couldn’t stomach his act of insurrection," she said on Twitter. "Our democracy must be stronger than the former president and the 43 senators who sided with him today."
Congressman Bill Keating, representing Massachusetts's 9th congressional district, said those who voted to acquit Trump have no respect.
"The 43 Republicans who voted to acquit former President Trump have no Constitutional respect, no democratic respect, and no self-respect," Keating wrote.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said it is both sad and dangerous that only a handful of Republicans voted to convict Trump.
"It is truly sad and dangerous that only 7 Republicans voted to convict a president who is promoting a Big Lie, conspiracy theories and violence, and is aggressively trying to destroy American democracy," Sanders said in a tweet.
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, of Maine, called it "tragic" that many Republican senators "chose their party over our democracy today."
Rep. Jim Langevin, Congressman for Rhode Island's second district, said it's unfortunate that Senate Republicans "chose to ignore the evidence and look the other way." despite the fact that the House impeachment managers presented a clear and compelling case to convict Trump.
Massachusetts' Rep. Lori Trahan, who represents the state's third congressional district, said those Republican senators "didn’t have the courage to vote their conscience."
Trahan said they will have to explain their "not guilty" vote to the "American people, who, unlike them, don’t live their lives in fear of losing re-election."
"Donald Trump is guilty. Every person who watched the trial over the past week knows that to be the case," Trahan wrote on Twitter. "Yet, 43 senators betrayed their oaths to the Constitution. They did it to show fealty to a man that would have watched them hang if it meant he got to stay in power."
Fellow Massachusetts' Rep. Jim McGovern agreed with Trahan, writing, "Donald Trump is guilty as all hell."
"We all know it. They all know it," he said on Twitter. "Senators who would rather throw away their conscience than stand up to a man who incited a violent attack on us at the Capitol will go down as cowards who betrayed their oath and disgraced their office."
Minutes after voting "not guilty" in Donald Trump's impeachment trial, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the former president is clearly to blame for the deadly Capitol riot, which did not sit well with lawmakers like Rep. Peter Welch, of Vermont.
"Sen. McConnell admits Trump is responsible, yet he votes to acquit. That sums it up for him and the other 42 Republicans who were presented with overwhelming evidence that Trump incited the violence on Jan. 6 but gave him a pass. The majority of the senate voted to convict Trump."
Rep. Clark seemed to respond to McConnell's statement in a tweet, writing, "Retroactive speeches and technical excuses do not hide your inaction in the face of injustice."
Maine's Sen. Angus King, one of the 53 senators who did vote to convict Trump, said on Twitter shortly after the verdict that the insurrection at the Capitol would not have happened "'but for’ Donald Trump’s lies about the election’s legitimacy and his repeated calls for supporters to gather in Washington on January 6."
New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan, who voted to impeach Trump, said our democracy is only as strong as those willing to defend it, while Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy questioned if Trump's actions weren't impeachable, what is?
"He tried to bully state officials into overturning the election. When that didn’t work, he organized a violent mob on the day of the vote count in Congress, riled it up and sent it to the Capitol. When the violence began, he celebrated," Murphy said. "If that’s not impeachable, what is?"
While Saturday's vote did not achieve the two thirds of the Senate, or 67 votes, that was needed for conviction, it was still the most bipartisan vote in the history of presidential impeachments.
Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal said that result reflects "the irrefutable, unrefuted case against Trump. This trial was a moral reckoning that laid bare Trump’s lawless incitement of a riot to overturn an election & retain power."