Former President Donald Trump plans a return to the public eye after being acquitted in his second impeachment trial over the weekend, the Associated Press reports.
The Senate on Saturday voted to allow witnesses to testify in the trial but House impeachment managers later backed off their push to interview Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who said Trump sided with the Capitol rioters when House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy pleaded for him to call off his supporters. The Senate then voted 57-43 in favor of convicting Trump, falling short of the 67 votes needed to convict.
But seven Republicans joined every Senate Democrat to vote for Trump’s conviction, making it the most bipartisan impeachment trial vote in history. Sen. Mitt Romney became the first senator to vote to convict a sitting president of his own party in Trump’s first trial.
Despite voting to acquit Trump, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell argued that he believes the trial was unconstitutional because Trump has already left office but blamed him for inciting the Capitol attack.
The rioters were "fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on Earth,” McConnell said. “Because he was angry he'd lost an election."
"Former President Trump's actions that preceded the riot were a disgraceful, disgraceful dereliction of duty," he added. "Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day."
Trump planning comeback:
Feeling “emboldened” by his acquittal, Trump is planning to “reassert his power,” according to the AP.
Though Trump remains banned from Twitter and Facebook, Trump is expected to “resume friendly media interviews” in the coming days.
Trump has also discussed how he can help Republicans win congressional races in 2022 but remains “fixated on exacting revenge” on Republicans who voted for his impeachment and conviction.
“I imagine you’ll probably be hearing a lot more from him in the coming days,” Trump adviser Jason Miller told the AP.
But Trump could still face legal jeopardy despite his Senate acquittal.
“He didn’t get away with anything — yet,” McConnell said after the vote. “We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation. And former presidents are not immune from being accountable by either one.”
GOP facing backlash:
Many of the Republicans who voted to convict Trump are already facing backlash from their own party back home.
The North Carolina Republican Party is expected to vote on whether to censure Sen. Richard Burr for his conviction vote. Burr plans to retire at the end of his term next year.
The Louisiana GOP also voted to censure Sen. Bill Cassidy for his vote, though he defended his choice, arguing simply that Trump was “guilty.
"I have no illusions that this is a popular decision,” Cassidy said. “I made this decision because Americans should not be fed lies about 'massive election fraud.' Police should not be left to the mercy of a mob. Mobs should not be inflamed to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power.”