Graham, Scott both vote to acquit former President Trump

South Carolina senators Lindsey Graham (left), and Tim Scott (right)
South Carolina senators Lindsey Graham (left), and Tim Scott (right)(WMBF / U.S. Senate)
Updated: Feb. 13, 2021 at 4:15 PM EST
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WASHINGTON (WMBF) - Both of South Carolina’s senators voted Saturday to acquit former President Donald Trump at the end of his second impeachment trial.

Sen. Lindsey Graham and Sen. Tim Scott each voted not guilty, both joining 41 other senators in voting to acquit the former president. A total of 34 not guilty votes were needed in order to acquit Trump.

Trump, the only president to be impeached twice, faced a charge of incitement of insurrection following deadly riots at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

“There is no doubt that January 6 was one of the saddest days in American history.  It will be part of President Trump’s term in office,” said Graham in a statement following Saturday’s vote. “This was an impeachment effort driven by passion and hatred against President Trump. In their drive to convict former President Trump, the House Managers totally ignored bedrock legal standards.  No hearings in the House of Representatives. No witnesses.  No testimony.  And the outrageous claim the First Amendment does not apply to political speech.”

Graham also accused the House of assigning complete blame to Trump, and claimed the trial record was built on “hearsay upon hearsay.”

“I fear that if this model is followed in the future,” he concluded. “Impeachment to disqualify one from holding office based on partisan hatred – will become the norm.  I hope I will be proven wrong, but it seems that impeachment based on partisan differences seems to be becoming the norm, not the exception.”

Scott did not immediately comment on his vote.

Earlier in the day, Graham joined four other GOP senators in voting to call for witnesses in the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. Graham changed his vote while the count was happening in the Senate chamber, which was eventually finalized at 55-45.

The result came as a surprise to many in Washington but was later reversed when the Senate agreed to skip witness testimony, allowing for closing arguments to begin.

Graham took to Twitter following his decision, saying that the trial should have multiple witnesses “if the body wants witnesses.” In the thread, he also called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to testify, saying she should “answer the question as to whether or not there was credible evidence of pre-planned violence before President Trump spoke” and called her potential testimony at the time “incredibly relevant to the incitement charge.”

House impeachment managers proposed the call for witnesses Saturday morning after a CNN report late Friday accused Trump of not calling off rioters who breached the Capitol. Trump allegedly told House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy that the rioters cared more about the results of the election than McCarthy did.

An issue brought up Saturday was whether to subpoena GOP Rep. Jamie Herrea Butler of Washington, who affirmed Friday’s report about Trump’s call with McCarthy. She was also one of 10 Republicans to vote for Trump’s impeachment in the House last month. Democrats argued Butler’s potential testimony could be a key piece of evidence in their case against the former president.

Trump’s defense team was opposed to calling witnesses Saturday. Lead attorney Michael van der Veen claimed it would open the door to calling as many as 100 witnesses and him holding depositions at his law office in Philadelphia.

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