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Senate acquits Trump

The Senate voted 57-43 on Saturday to acquit former President Trump on charges of high crimes and misdemeanors for inciting an insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Why it matters: Trump, who made history as the first president to be impeached by the House of Representatives twice, has again avoided conviction in the Senate.

The vote came after a chaotic day, during which the House impeachment managers sought, and then abandoned, plans to call witnesses.

Raskin makes a closing argument in former President Trump's second impeachment trial. Photo: via Getty Images

In their closing arguments, Trump's lawyers insisted that the former president never directed his supporters to use violence or incite the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. They argued that the "Stop the Steal" rally Trump spoke at was meant to be peaceful, but "fringe groups" hijacked the event with their malintent.

  • Meanwhile, the House impeachment managers alleged that Trump had egged his supporters on for months, culminating in the deadly attack on Jan. 6. Trump then sat by for hours as his vice president and members of Congress were under siege, before telling his supporters to go home, the managers claim.

Their closing statements came after lead House impeachment manager, Rep. Jamie Raskin, unexpectedly announced Saturday morning that his team would seek testimony from Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) to talk about her knowledge of a conversation between House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Trump during the Capitol attack.

  • Beutler — one of 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump — said McCarthy told her he pleaded with Trump to go on television and call off the riots, but the president refused to do so for hours.
  • The Senate then voted 55-45 to call at least one witness. All Democrats and five Republicans voted in favor of seeking witness testimony.
  • The five GOP Senators included: Susan Collins (Maine), Ben Sasse (Neb.), Mitt Romney (Utah), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Lindsey Graham (S.C).
  • Trump’s defense team was furious with the 11th-hour decision and threatened to subpoena House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a series of other witnesses. Other Republicans also said they'd drag out the trial if the House managers decided to move forward with subpoenas.

The trial then recessed as both sides hashed out a deal. They agreed that, rather than calling for witnesses to testify before the Senate — which likely would have dragged out the trial for several more days, if not weeks — that they would instead submit a statement from Beutler for the record.

Behind the scenes: The managers were arguing amongst themselves until 3 am about how to handle the report of the Trump-McCarthy phone call.

  • Schumer encouraged the caucus to support whatever the managers decided.
  • Five minutes before the Senate convened, the managers indicated to Senate Democrats that they wanted witnesses.
  • Senate Democrats gave them the votes, but the managers didn’t know what their next step was.
  • The managers decided to reach an agreement with Trump counsel.

The big picture: The Senate was expected to wrap up the trial and cast a final vote by the end of the day.

Between the lines: The White House was deliberate in its messaging to show that it was not focused on the trial: President Biden went to Camp David for the weekend and aides announced he was meeting Saturday with national security advisers. Vice President Harris and her husband visited a veteran’s hospital in DC and brought cookies to healthcare workers.

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