Trump hails acquittal from ‘witch hunt,’ says his movement ‘has only just begun’

After Senate votes against charges of incitement to insurrection, former US president hints at return to politics, says he has ‘vision for a bright, limitless American future’

In this file photo taken on February 06, 2020, US President Donald Trump holds up a newspaper that displays a headline "Acquitted," as he arrives to speak at the 68th annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC (Nicholas Kamm / AFP)
Illustrative: US President Donald Trump holds up a newspaper that displays a headline 'Acquitted' following his first impeachment, as he arrives to speak at the 68th annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC, February 6, 2020. (Nicholas Kamm / AFP)

Former US President Donald Trump on Saturday welcomed his acquittal in the US Senate on an impeachment charge and said his political movement “has only just begun.”

Trump, who has been secluded in his Florida club since leaving office on January 20, issued a statement in which he expressed thanks for the verdict, and called the proceedings “yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our country.”

The 74-year old Republican also hinted at a possible political future, and at “continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people.”

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

“Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun,” Trump said.

In this image from video, the final vote total of 57-43, to acquit former US President Donald Trump of the impeachment charge, incitement of insurrection, in the Senate at the US Capitol in Washington, February 13, 2021. (Senate Television via AP)

A two-thirds majority was needed in the 100-member Senate to convict Trump of the charge of inciting the January 6 attack on the US Capitol by his supporters but only 57 senators voted “guilty.”

Seven Republicans joined Democrats in the Senate in voting to convict the former president.

In Trump’s historic second impeachment trial, the senators for the first time ever were not only jurors but witnesses to the assault at the heart of the charge against Trump.

Democrats had argued that Trump’s behavior was an “open and shut” example of an impeachable offense, saying that as president he repeated the falsehood that the election was stolen, then whipped up supporters to attack Congress and stop the certification of the vote.

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

The defense team swatted such evidence away, insisting the Senate had no constitutional jurisdiction to try a former president. Most Republican senators agreed.

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