Biden on Trump acquittal: ‘Substance of the charge is not in dispute’

US President Joe Biden speaks during a visit to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, February 11, 2021. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
President Biden on late Saturday night issued a statement on the acquittal of former President Trump, in which he said that he was thinking about those who protected the Capitol on Jan. 6, adding that though Republican senators largely did not vote against Trump, the “substance of the charge” was not in dispute.

The Senate voted 57-43 on Saturday to acquit Trump of the charge of incitement of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol building. At the time, rioters stormed the Capitol with the hope of being able to stop Congress’s certification of Biden’s Electoral College victory. 

Seven Republicans joined Democrats in voting “guilty,” though the effort fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to formally convict.

Biden, in his Saturday night statement invoked Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConell (R-Ky.) who did not vote to convict Trump, but issued a blistering rebuke of the president following the final vote. 

“While the final vote did not lead to a conviction, the substance of the charge is not in dispute,” Biden wrote. 

“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 he was thinking of those who protected the Capitol during the riots, as well as those who died and remain in danger following the incident.

He also said he was thinking of those who “demonstrated the courage to protect the integrity of our democracy” before an after the election.

The president ended his statement by drawing on his previous calls for unity to heal “the soul of the nation.”

“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 continued.

“That is how we end this uncivil war and heal the very soul of our nation. That is the task ahead. And it’s a task we must undertake together. As the United States of America,” he concluded.

The statement is the most extensive remarks Biden has made regarding the impeachment proceedings.

The president has largely sidestepped questions about the trial, stating that the details about impeachment should be left up to Congress, and instead has steered the conversation toward other priorities such as COVID-19 relief.

However, Biden said on Friday that he was “anxious” to see how many Republicans would “stand up, if they do so,” regarding impeachment.  He also said that he hoped the security footage from the riot shown during the trial would change “some minds.”

Via The Hill