WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The U.S. Senate voted to acquit former President Donald Trump of inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection following closing arguments Saturday afternoon in his second impeachment trial.
The Senate fell short by 10 votes to reach the two-thirds majority needed to convict.
Seven Republican senators joined all Democrats in voting in favor of convicting the former president, failing to reach the 67 votes needed to achieve the necessary two-thirds supermajority.
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 Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania voted in favor of convicting the former president.
Friday, Trump’s lawyers presented their defense arguments in the former president’s historic second impeachment trial. Democratic House impeachment managers wrapped their case Thursday.
A two-thirds majority of the 100-member Senate was needed to convict Trump, meaning 17 Republicans would need to join all 50 Democrats in backing it. Only seven GOP senators joined all Democrats in voting in favor of conviction.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives impeached Trump on Jan. 13 on a single charge of inciting insurrection, focusing on a speech he made to supporters shortly before the D.C. riot.
Forty-three Republican senators voted Trump was “not guilty” of inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection by supporters who stormed the seat of Congress in Washington to stop lawmakers from certifying Democratic President Joe Biden’s election victory, resulting in the deaths of five people, including a police officer. Earlier Saturday, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell told colleagues he would vote to acquit Trump.
Ahead of closing arguments, House impeachment prosecutors said early Saturday they would prepare a deposition of Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler over fresh information in Trump’s trial over the deadly attack at the Capitol.
Lead Democratic prosecutor Jamie Raskin of Maryland had said he would seek to hear from the Republican congresswoman, who has widely shared a conversation she had with House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy over Trump’s actions Jan. 6 as the mob was rioting over the presidential election results.
Raskin said he would pursue a virtual interview with the Washington lawmaker.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell told colleagues he will vote to acquit Trump, a source told The Associated Press.
By Saturday afternoon, House Managers and members of Trump’s defense team agreed to include the statement of Congresswoman Beutler into the record instead of allowing witnesses to testify. The trial moved forward with closing arguments.
Democrats reiterated their argument that Trump was responsible for the deadly Jan 6. siege on the day the Senate was certifying the election results.
“He abused his office by siding with the insurrectionists at almost every point, rather than with the Congress of the United States, rather than with the Constitution,” said lead House impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland.
Michael van der Veen, one of Trump’s attorneys, said his client had not been given due process and said Trump had not incited violence.
“No matter how much truly horrifying footage we see of the conduct of the rioters and how much emotion has been injected into this trial, that does not change the fact that Mr. Trump is innocent of the charges against him,” he said. “The act of incitement never happened.”
Donald Trump’s lawyers Friday laid out their case for why the former president should be acquitted of inciting last month’s deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol.
After a prosecution case rooted in images from the Capitol siege, the impeachment trial shifted to defense lawyers who were prepared to make a fundamental concession: The violence was every bit as traumatic, unacceptable and illegal as Democrats say — but Trump did not order it.
Trump’s defense team wrapped their case Friday afternoon after a three-hour presentation; the Senate then took a 15-minute recess before resuming.
Senators then submitted written questions to the prosecution and the defense.
One of the first questions came from Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who have been critical of Trump’s actions. They asked Trump’s lawyers to lay out in detail what Trump did to stop the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, and when Trump first learned the building had been breached.
The time expired for the questions and answers period shortly before 6:30 EST. The trial adjourned until 10 a.m. EST Saturday.
Per the rules of the impeachment trial, following the conclusion of presentations from both sides and the questions and answers period, there will be closing arguments and an opportunity for the Senate to hold deliberations.
At the conclusion of closing arguments and, if requested, deliberation time for senators, the Senate will vote whether or not to convict Trump on the incitement of insurrection charge.
Neither side has so far announced an intention to call witnesses, leaving senators on track for final arguments and a vote as soon as Saturday.
Prosecutors wrapped up an emotional two days of opening arguments, with Trump’s defense to take the floor on Friday. The proceedings could wind up with a vote this weekend. The Democrats, with little hope of conviction by two-thirds of the Senate, made their most graphic case to the American public, while Trump’s lawyers are focused on legal rather than emotional or historic questions, hoping to get it all behind him as quickly as possible.
House Democrats Wednesday formally began making their case that former President Donald Trump should be convicted for inciting insurrection in last month’s violence at the U.S. Capitol that interrupted the presidential electoral count and left several people dead.
Previously unseen graphic Capitol security footage was shown before the Senate recessed for a dinner break.
House Democrats agreed to strike some of their impeachment prosecution comments after Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah objected. Prosecutors recounted news reports about how Donald Trump mistakenly phoned Lee as the siege was underway at the Capitol and senators were being evacuated.
According to the reports, including an account Lee gave to the Deseret News in Utah, Trump was trying to reach Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville to discuss Tuberville objecting to the certification of Electoral College votes.
Lee objected to Democrats’ representations of the call during their case and disputed it as inaccurate, but it wasn’t clear what he was objecting to.
Democrats then said they would strike those references from their presentation because it isn’t critical to their case but may reintroduce it later.
The Senate adjourned until 12 p.m. EST Thursday.
The impeachment trial began in the Senate Tuesday, with the debate focusing on the constitutionality of trying a former president after he’s left office. House impeachment managers opened their case by showing a video of what unfolded on Jan. 6 from the perspectives of rioters storming the Capitol to try to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s victory, as well as police responding to the attack and lawmakers trapped in the building.
Trump’s defense team made their opening arguments Tuesday, stating the former president’s impeachment trial should be dismissed, both because he says it is unconstitutional and because it will “tear this country apart.”
The Senate voted 56-44 that it is constitutional to try a former president; the trial will proceed Wednesday.
impeachment trial STRUCTURE AND RULES
Senators met as jurors Tuesday for the impeachment trial.
After the House approved the sole charge of “incitement of insurrection,” Trump became the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice. He’s also the first to face trial after leaving office.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced a bipartisan resolution Monday afternoon to govern the structure and timing of this week’s impeachment trial.
“All parties have agreed to a structure that will ensure a fair and honest Senate impeachment trial of the former president,” Schumer said.
The resolution lays out the following rules:
- Tuesday, Feb. 9: Up to four hours equally divided between the House impeachment managers and Trump’s counsel to present arguments on the constitutionality of the trial. Following these arguments, the Senate voted at a simple majority threshold on whether the chamber has jurisdiction under the Constitution to try former President Trump. A majority voted in favor of the constitutionality of the trial; it will proceed under the provisions of the resolution as follows:
- Wednesday, Feb. 10: Beginning at noon EST, House managers will have 16 hours over two days to make their arguments, as will the defense. Each side must use their time over no greater than two days, and each day’s presentation will not exceed eight hours.
- Following presentations from both sides, there will be equal time for senators’ questions and for closing arguments and an opportunity for the Senate to hold deliberations, for a total of four hours.
- Following the senator question period, there will be four hours divided equally for arguments on whether the Senate will consider motions to subpoena witnesses and documents, if so requested. If the Senate votes in favor, then motions to subpoena witnesses or documents will be in order, and the Senate will vote on any such motions.
- If witnesses or documents are subpoenaed, both parties can depose witnesses and conduct discovery.
- For closing arguments, up to four hours equally divided between the House impeachment managers and defense.
- At the conclusion of closing arguments and, if requested, deliberation time for senators, the Senate will vote on the article of impeachment, which is a single charge of incitement of insurrection.
- If the Senate votes to convict, they will proceed to a vote on whether he is qualified to further hold office.
“If the president is convicted, we will proceed to a vote on whether he is qualified to enjoy an office of honor, trust or profit under the United States,” Schumer said, noting that “the structure we have agreed to is imminently fair.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also said on the Senate floor Monday afternoon the structure has been approved by both former President Trump’s legal team and the House managers because it “preserves due process and the rights of both sides” and “will give senators as jurors ample time to review the case and the arguments that each side will present.”
Trump’s legal team issued a statement Monday following the announcement of the bipartisan resolution on the structure of the trial:
“President Donald J. Trump’s legal team issued the following statement regarding the next phase of the unconstitutional impeachment trial: President Trump and his counsel are pleased that there was bipartisan support on how to structure the impeachment trial. We appreciate that Senate Republican leadership stood strong for due process and secured a structure that is consistent with past precedent. This process will provide us with an opportunity to explain to Senators why it is absurd and unconstitutional to hold an impeachment trial against a private citizen.”
The trial was set to break Friday evening for the Jewish Sabbath, but Trump’s defense team withdrew the request, concerned about the delay, and now the trial can continue into the weekend and next week. This could alter the previous schedule outlined in the resolution.
Before the trial began Tuesday, House impeachment managers filed a reply to a pretrial brief submitted by Trump’s attorneys the day before, which outlined the claims the defense intends to argue on the Senate floor.
The managers said the former president “seeks to evade responsibility” and “shift the blame onto his supporters.”
Trump’s attorneys had argued in the brief filed Monday that he was exercising his First Amendment rights, and that the Senate isn’t entitled to try the former president now that he has left office.
The attorneys called the case against him an act of “political theater.”
The impeachment managers said Tuesday that, the “First Amendment protects our democratic system — but it does not protect a President who incites his supporters to imperil that system through violence.”
House impeachment members had also responded to the filing Monday, saying the evidence against Trump is “overwhelming.”
The Democrats said the former president has “no valid excuse or defense for his actions.”
The defense had already laid out its arguments last week.
In a brief filed last Tuesday, the House lawmakers said Trump bears “unmistakable” blame for last month’s deadly assault on the Capitol.
“His conduct endangered the life of every single member of Congress, jeopardized the peaceful transition of power and line of succession, and compromised our national security,” the Democratic managers of the impeachment case wrote. “This is precisely the sort of constitutional offense that warrants disqualification from federal office.”
Trump’s lawyers submitted a formal response to the House’s impeachment article last week, denying the allegations and calling the trial unconstitutional.
“It is denied that President Trump ever endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of Government,” defense lawyers wrote in a 14-page brief.
The former president has rejected a request from House impeachment managers to testify under oath for the trial, according to an adviser.
House Democrats asked Trump to appear in a formal letter, though the Senate could later force a subpoena. Trump lawyers have dismissed the request as a “public relations stunt.”
Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report. Reporting by Reuters’ Ted Hesson, and AP’s Lisa Mascaro and Hope Yen.