WASHINGTON - President Joe Biden released a statement Saturday night after the Senate failed to convict former president Donald Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
"While the final vote did not lead to a conviction, the substance of the charge is not in dispute," he 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 that he is thinking about the lives lost from the riot, the military and "all those who are still today living with terror they lived through that day."
"This sad chapter in our history has reminded us that democracy is fragile," he continued.
Barely a month since the deadly Jan. 6 riot that stunned the world, the Senate convened for a rare weekend session to deliver its verdict, voting while armed National Guard troops continued to stand their posts outside the iconic building.
The quick trial, the nation’s first of a former president, showed in raw and emotional detail how perilously close the invaders had come to destroying the nation's deep tradition of a peaceful transfer of presidential power after Trump had refused to concede the election. Rallying outside the White House, he unleashed a mob of supporters to "fight like hell" for him at the Capitol just as Congress was certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s victory. As hundreds stormed the building, some in tactical gear engaging in bloody combat with police, lawmakers fled for their lives. Five people died.
The verdict, on a vote of 57-43, is all but certain to influence not only the former president's political future but that of the senators sworn to deliver impartial justice as jurors. Seven Republicans joined all Democrats to convict, but it was far from the two-third threshold required.
Trump, unrepentant, welcomed his second impeachment acquittal and said his movement "has only just begun." He slammed the trial as "yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our Country."
Though he was acquitted of the sole charge of incitement of insurrection, it was easily the largest number of senators to ever vote to find a president of their own party guilty of an impeachment count of high crimes and misdemeanors.
Voting to find Trump guilty were GOP Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. The story was reported from Los Angeles.