Colorado's two Democratic senators voted to convict Donald Trump Saturday on impeachment charges of inciting an insurrection, but the 57-43 vote — including seven Republicans — fell short of the two-thirds needed for conviction, handing the former president an acquittal.
The verdict came on the fifth day of Trump's historic second impeachment trial, following hours of arguments presented by House impeachment managers — including two Colorado lawmakers — and lawyers for the former president.
There was no suspense over the votes cast by U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, who both called for Trump's removal from office in the wake of the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol by the president's supporters.
U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, a Lafayette Democrat and one of the House managers, delivered a portion of the prosecution's closing arguments Saturday, appealing to the senators' sense of history and times when the Senate set aside political concerns to grapple with momentous decisions.
"There are moments that transcend party politics and that require us to put country above our party because the consequences of not doing so are just too great," Neguse said. "Senators, this is one of those moments."
Hickenlooper, who was sworn into office just days before the attack on the Capitol, said in a statement that he was convinced the evidence showed Trump "sought to overturn a free and fair election" in an effort to stay in power.
“In doing so," Hickenlooper said, "he incited an insurrection and threatened the peaceful transfer of power — the very bedrock of our democracy. I’m hopeful that we can turn the page on this dark chapter in American history and move forward as a country to tackle the pressing challenges ahead.”
Bennet, who voted to convict Trump just over a year ago in the former president's first impeachment trial, noted that 57 senators had voted to convict Trump — including the highest number of senators to cross party lines in a presidential impeachment.
“Although the Senate fell short of the required two-thirds majority, our bipartisan vote reflects the powerful evidence that President Trump breached his oath of office," Bennet said in a statement.
"In my view, his egregious refusal to accept the results of a lawful election and his intimidation of election officials were sufficient to warrant conviction. In the end, he stopped at nothing, inciting a mob to attack the Capitol to overturn the lawful election of President Biden, putting American lives, principles, and democratic institutions at mortal risk."
Added Bennet: “Our exercise in self-government will always be vulnerable to demagogues who do anything to hold on to power. As citizens we must stand in their way and strengthen our democracy — today, tomorrow, and for generations to come.”
Noting that he was the youngest member of the team of House managers, the 36-year-old Neguse suggested during his remarks Saturday that he might be more idealistic than some of his congressional colleagues but nevertheless invoked votes senators had taken at pivotal moments that he said "helped to define and enshrine America at its best."
"I firmly believe that our certification of the electoral college votes in the early hours of Jan. 7, a refusal to let our republic be threatened and taken down by a violent mob, will go down in history as one of those moments too," he said.
"And I believe that this body can rise to the occasion once again today by convicting President Trump and defending the republic."
Neguse also argued that the vote to convict or acquit wasn't just a matter of rendering a verdict on past behavior.
"The stakes — the stakes cannot be higher," he said. "Because the cold, hard truth is what happened on Jan. 6 can happen again. I fear, like many of you do, that the violence we saw on that terrible day may be just the beginning. We’ve shown you the ongoing risks, the extremist groups growing more emboldened every day. Senators, this cannot be the beginning. It can’t be the new normal. It has to be the end."
Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, one of Trump's most vocal congressional advocates, reacted to the vote on Twitter with a simple celebratory declaration.
"Twice," the freshman lawmaker from Silt tweeted, above a year-old photo of a smiling Trump waving a Washington Post emblazoned with the headline, "Trump acquitted."
Twice. pic.twitter.com/cVXGew8tIu— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) February 13, 2021
U.S. Rep. Jason Crow recalled that he served as one of the House managers in Trump’s first impeachment trial.
“A year ago I stood on the floor of the Senate and asked them to convict Donald Trump. After bringing forward a clear, concise and damning case, today my colleagues did the same,” the Aurora Democrat said in a statement.
“We have known for a long time that Donald Trump poses a danger to our democracy and the safety of the American people. He will never learn his lesson. He will never change. There will always be those who continue to ignore his abuses or who choose political expediency over truth and justice, and they will be accountable to history.”
Crow concluded: “The task before us now is to recognize that our democracy is only as strong as our willingness to uphold it, and commit to rebuilding. As President Biden said, if ‘enough of us’ come together, we can do great things. Onward!”
Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs, a staunch Trump ally and co-chair of the former president’s 2020 reelection campaign in Colorado, issued a statement applauding the result.
“This result is not surprising. Just like during the first sham impeachment process, President Trump has once again been exonerated. Now that the Democrats have finished their second hyper-partisan impeachment, Congress needs to move on to substantive legislative work. We must focus on reopening schools, providing targeted COVID relief and legislating for the American people,” Lamborn said.
“Before President Trump even took office, Democrats were calling for his impeachment. The only thing unifying Democrats right now is their hatred for President Donald Trump.”
In his remarks before the vote, Neguse said he was struck by how often Trump’s defenders claimed the impeachment was motivated by hatred.
“One of my favorite quotes of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” Neguse said, “one that has sustained me during times of adversity — I suspect it has sustained some of you — is that ‘I’ve decide to stick with love,’ that ‘hate is too great a burden to bear.'
"This trial is not born from hatred," he said. "Far from it. It's born from love of country — our country, our desire to maintain it, our desire to see America at its best."