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Erin Schaff - Pool/Getty Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump is speaking out following the Senate's vote to acquit him in his unprecedented second impeachment trial.
On Saturday, the Senate voted 57-43 to acquit Trump in the wake of the U.S. Capitol attack on Jan. 6. A total of 57 senators voted to convict Trump. Democrats need at least 17 Republicans in order to convict Trump and ultimately seven Republicans voted with them.
The House of Representatives had charged Trump on Jan. 13 with inciting an insurrection in the Jan. 6 riots that saw a mob of his supporters storm the U.S. Capitol building during a joint session of Congress, overwhelming law enforcement and sending lawmakers into hiding. Trump is the only president to have been impeached twice.
Shortly after the Senate's decision, Trump released a lengthy statement, which was obtained by PEOPLE. The former president, 74, began by thanking his "team of dedicated lawyers and others for their tireless work upholding justice and defending truth."
He also went on to thank the "United States Senators and Members of Congress who stood proudly for the Constitution we all revere and for the sacred legal principles at the heart of our country."
"Our cherished Constitutional Republic was founded on the impartial rule of law, the indispensable safeguard for our liberties, our rights and our freedoms. It is a sad commentary on our times that one political party in America is given a free pass to denigrate the rule of law, defame law enforcement, cheer mobs, excuse rioters, and transform justice into a tool of political vengeance, and persecute, blacklist, cancel and suppress all people and viewpoints with whom or which they disagree," Trump said.
He did not comment on the case made against him this week or acknowledge the accounts of mayhem and violence that were central to his trial. Instead he complained, as he has numerous times over the years, of a "witch hunt."
"I always have, and always will, be a champion for the unwavering rule of law, the heroes of law enforcement, and the right of Americans to peacefully and honorably debate the issues of the day without malice and without hate," he continued.
Uncredited/AP/Shutterstock Donald Trump's impeachment trial
"This has been yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our Country," Trump claimed. "No president has ever gone through anything like it, and it continues because our opponents cannot forget the almost 75 million people, the highest number ever for a sitting president, who voted for us just a few short months ago."
"I also want to convey my gratitude to the millions of decent, hardworking, law-abiding, God-and-Country loving citizens who have bravely supported these important principles in these very difficult and challenging times," he said. "Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun. In the months ahead I have much to share with you, and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people. There has never been anything like it!"
"We have so much work ahead of us, and soon we will emerge with a vision for a bright, radiant, and limitless American future. Together there is nothing we cannot accomplish," Trump shared.
"We remain one People, one family, and one glorious nation under God, and it's our responsibility to preserve this magnificent inheritance for our children and for generations of Americans to come. May God bless all of you, and may God forever bless the United States of America," he concluded his statement.
Trump's second impeachment trial began on Feb. 9 and saw the House impeachment managers (analogous to prosecutors) recreate a timeline of Trump's behavior before, during and after the Capitol attacks and of the mayhem unfolding inside the building.
Relying on the public record of Trump's comments as well as extensive video footage, including previously unseen security video, they argued that Trump's months-long claims that the November election was illegitimate fomented the violence among his supporters.
Trump was previously charged by the House with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in the Ukraine scandal. The Senate acquitted him in that trial.