Acquitted by Senate, Trump said to fear criminal charges over US Capitol riot

After senators vote down incitement to insurrection charge, top Republican warns ex-president still liable and ‘didn’t get away with anything yet’

US President Donald Trump in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House, on November 20, 2020. (Mandel Ngan/AFP)
US President Donald Trump in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House, on November 20, 2020. (Mandel Ngan/AFP)

Former US president Donald Trump is concerned he could face criminal charges for inciting the attack on the Capitol on January 6, despite his acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial, according to CNN.

“He’s worried about it,” an adviser close to the former president told the US network on Saturday night. Trump has voiced the fear over the past several weeks, sources said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a former ally of Trump who has  blamed him for the insurrection, also warned Saturday the ex-president could be prosecuted in the future. He stressed that while Congress has exhausted its avenues for punishing Trump, the US justice system has not.

“President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office,” McConnell said. “He didn’t get away with anything yet.”

Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell arrives at the US Capitol for the fifth day of the second impeachment trial of former US President Donald Trump, on February 13, 2021, in Washington, DC (MANDEL NGAN / AFP)

Trump was acquitted Saturday on charges of inciting an insurrection at the US Capitol, after a majority of Senate Republicans closed ranks and refused to punish the former president in his historic second impeachment trial.

The five-day trial saw Democratic prosecutors argue — bolstered by dramatic video of the January 6 riot in which five people were killed — that Trump betrayed his oath by whipping up his supporters into storming Congress in a last-ditch attempt to cling to power.

It concluded as expected with a majority of Republicans declaring him not guilty, in a sign of the powerful grip the 74-year-old Trump continues to exert on his party.

But while the 57-43 majority that voted to convict fell short of the two-thirds needed in the Senate, seven Republicans joined with Democrats to seek Trump’s conviction, making it the most bipartisan impeachment trial in US history.

Trump, who has been secluded in his Florida club since leaving office on January 20, welcomed the verdict — denouncing the proceedings as “yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our country.”

Insurrectionist supporters of US President Donald Trump are confronted by US Capitol Police officers outside the Senate Chamber inside the Capitol in Washington, January 6, 2021. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

Despite the stain of a second impeachment, Trump hinted at a possible political future, saying that “our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun.”

“We have so much work ahead of us, and soon we will emerge with a vision for a bright, radiant, and limitless American future,” he said in a statement.

Trump was castigated shortly after the vote by top Republican McConnell, who voted for acquittal on procedural grounds but warned the former US president could yet be investigated by the authorities.

Capitol Police guard the US Capitol in Washington, January 15, 2021, ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The former Trump ally unleashed a searing rebuke of the ex-president, calling his actions preceding the assault a “disgraceful dereliction” of duty.

“There’s no question — none — that president Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day,” McConnell told the chamber after the vote.

Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives on January 13, a week after the chaotic assault that stunned the nation and provoked widespread bipartisan outrage.

The Pro-Trump rally at the US Capitol, Washington DC on January 6, 2021 (Lloyd Wolf via JTA)

Democrats argued that Trump’s behavior was an “open and shut” case of impeachable conduct, retracing how he spent two months repeating the falsehood that the election was stolen, before inciting his supporters to attack Congress and stop the certification of Joe Biden’s victory.

“He summoned his supporters to Washington… whipped them into a frenzy, and directed them at the Capitol,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said after the vote.

The defense team swatted the evidence away, arguing that Trump’s appeal to supporters to “fight like hell, at the rally that preceded the attack,” was merely rhetorical.

The Pro-Trump rally at the US Capitol, Washington DC on January 6, 2021 (Lloyd Wolf via JTA)

Separately, a Georgia prosecutor said earlier this week that she’s opened a criminal investigation into “attempts to influence” the outcome of last year’s general election. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis did not specifically mention Trump in the letters she sent to state officials Wednesday announcing her investigation. But Willis spokesman Jeff DiSantis told The Associated Press that a call Trump made to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger last month is “part of it.” On the January 2 call, Trump asked Raffensperger to find enough votes to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia.

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