Daily updates: Senate votes on article of impeachment against former president Trump

President+Donald+Trump+addresses+the+crowd+at+Target+Center+in+Minneapolis%2C+MN%2C+for+his+2020+presidential+campaign+rally+on+October+10%2C+2019.+The+Senate+is+currently+holding+Trump%27s+second+impeachment+trial+on+charges+of+%22incitement+of+insurrection.%22

Nikolas Liepins/The Rubicon, with the NSPA Campaign 2020 Photo Exchange project

President Donald Trump addresses the crowd at Target Center in Minneapolis, MN, for his 2020 presidential campaign rally on October 10, 2019. The Senate is currently holding Trump’s second impeachment trial on charges of “incitement of insurrection.”

As the Senate proceeds with the second impeachment trial of former president Donald J. Trump, this article will be updated with the latest news. Check Harker Aquila for more updates.

Saturday, Feb. 13

The Senate acquitted former president Trump of charges that he incited the Jan. 6 insurrection in a 57-43 vote. A ⅔ majority of 67 votes was required to convict.

This marked the first time in U.S. history that a president was impeached and acquitted twice, the first Senate impeachment trial of a former president and the shortest impeachment trial ever.

This is also the most bipartisan impeachment trial in American history with seven Republicans voting to convict. Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Bill Cassidy (R-L.A.), Susan Collins (R-M.E.), Lisa Murkowski (R-A.K.), Mitt Romney (R-U.T.), Ben Sasse (R-N.E.) and Pat Toomey (R-R.I.) all voted to convict.

The day started with lead impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-M.D.) telling senators that he would seek to use testimony from Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-W.A.). Herrera Beutler shared publicly her knowledge of a conversation between former president Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Jan. 6, where Trump allegedly sided with rioters and refused to call them off.

The Senate voted 55-45 to allow at least one witness. The five Republican senators were Sens. Susan Collins (R-M.E.), Mitt Romney (R-U.T.), Ben Sasse (R-N.E.), Lisa Murkowski (R-A.K.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)

The Trump defense team was not at all happy with the decision: lawyer Michael van der Deen threatened to call Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Harris to testify, which was met with laughter by senators in the chamber.

After a recess, the managers switched course and backed down from calling witnesses, instead choosing to enter Beutler’s statement into the record. Calling witnesses would have extended the length of the trial for days, if not weeks.

Both sides were allotted 2 hours each to present closing arguments, after which the final vote occurred.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell harshly criticized the president’s actions despite voting to acquit. “There’s no question – none – that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day,” he said.

Former president Trump released a statement today, in which he called the impeachment proceedings “the greatest witch hunt in the history of our Country.”

“Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun,” he wrote. “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.”

President Joe Biden also released a statement today regarding the results of the trial. 

“This sad chapter in our history has reminded us that democracy is fragile. That it must always be defended. That we must be ever vigilant. That violence and extremism has no place in America,” he wrote. “And that each of us has a duty and responsibility as Americans, and especially as leaders, to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.”

Friday, Feb. 12

Former president Trump’s counsel used only 3 of the 16 allocated hours to make their case to acquit, and the remainder of the day was spent answering questions submitted by senators.

Attorney Michael van der Deen defended Trump and certain Republican senators by showing clips of Democrats objecting to the certification of electoral votes in the 2016 election. He also argued that one of the first arrests following the Capitol attack was a member of Antifa, a claim that has been disputed by members from both sides of the aisle.

Lawyer David Schoen accused House managers of manipulating video evidence and misconstruing Trump’s words. He also alleged that managers had fabricated tweets from the president and his supporters.

A key component of the defense’s argument was a 13-minute video montage that showed Democrats and other liberals using the word “fight” over the years, showing that it is standard political speech protected under the First Amendment. The prosecution alleged that Trump telling his supporters to “fight like hell” during his speech at the Save America rally contributed to the incitement of the insurrection.

“Clearly there was no insurrection,” said lawyer Bruce Castor, who gave the widely criticized opening on Feb. 9. “Insurrection is a term defined in the law that involves taking over a country, a shadow government, taking the TV stations over and having some plan on what you will do when you finally take over. Clearly this is not that.”

House managers and defense counsel answered a combined number of 23 questions from senators. The full list of questions asked can be found here

For most questions regarding specifics on the president’s behavior during the riots, defense lawyers placed the blame on House managers for rushing a “snap impeachment” without gathering any substantial evidence. Managers noted that they had sent a request to Trump to testify, but he declined immediately.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-V.T.) asked defense lawyers if they believed Trump won or lost the election, and van der Veen dismissed the question, saying it was “irrelevant.”

Thursday, Feb. 11

The House managers continued to make their case to convict former president Trump on the third day of impeachment proceedings.

Rep. Diana DeGette (D-C.O.) played more clips of rioters and Trump supporters saying that they were “invited” to fight at the Capitol at the request of the former president. Lead manager Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-M.D.) showed videos of Trump’s rallies and speeches ranging from his 2016 campaign where he encouraged violence by his supporters.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-C.A.) provided a list of members of the Trump administration who said the president incited the insurrection. Former Attorney General Bill Bar, former Defense Secretary James Mattis and former chiefs of staff John Kelly and Mick Mulvaney were all mentioned, and Lieu also pointed out the number of resignations from the administration following Jan. 6.

“Is there any political leader in this room who believes that if he is ever allowed by the Senate to get back into the Oval Office, Donald Trump would stop inciting violence to get his way?” Raskin said to senators. “Would you bet the lives of more police officers on that?”

The House concluded their arguments today, and Trump’s defense counsel will begin their case tomorrow.

Wednesday, Feb. 10

The second day of Trump’s second impeachment trial kicked off with the House managers arguing their case. Each side was allocated 16 hours to deliver their remarks.

Impeachment managers showed security camera footage from Jan. 6 that had never been publicly shown or shared before. Some of these clips included the hallway outside Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office where her aides hid, Capitol police officer Eugene Goodman telling Sen. Mitt Romney (R-U.T.) to run the other way to escape rioters and the initial breach of rioters into the left wing of the Capitol building.

Before presenting clips, lead manager Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-M.D.) advised that the videos would show “violence, bloodshed and pain in the nation’s Capitol,” and he urged viewers to exercise careful judgement when showing it to young people.

“I hope that my Republican colleagues have had their eyes and ears open today,” tweeted Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-M.A.) after the Senate had adjourned for the day. “The evidence is horrifying and indisputable.”

Rep. Joe Neguse (D-C.O.) laid out the roadmap for the prosecution’s argument: Trump’s provocation, attack and harm. He and Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-T.X.) detailed the former president’s extensive focus on the “Big Lie” that he actually won the 2020 election in a landslide.

Other material the managers used were interviews and tweets from insurrectionists and rioters who said that they were there at the Capitol because the former president asked them to come.

Many Republican senators continued to indicate that they would be voting to acquit Trump after the second day of the impeachment trial.

“They spent a great deal of time focusing on the horrific acts of violence that were played out by the criminals, but the language from the president doesn’t come close to meeting the legal standard for incitement,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-T.X.) to reporters. Cruz was one of the lawmakers who objected to the certification of electoral votes last month.

Tuesday, Feb. 9

Former president Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial began at 1 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Feb. 9, in the United States Senate. Trump is being charged with “incitement of insurrection” after he encouraged a mob of his supporters to “fight like hell” on Jan. 6 during the certification of the electoral votes, resulting in the breach of the Capitol, 5 deaths and more than 100 injuries.

The House passed the article of impeachment on Jan. 13, and the Senate is convening this week to decide on conviction. Due to the 50-50 Democrat and Republican split in the Senate, 17 Republican votes are needed to convict Trump, so acquittal is likely.

If Trump is convicted, he will be barred from holding any public or civil office in the future.

On Tuesday, Senate proceedings focused on the constitutionality of the trial. Trump is the first president that will be tried for impeachment after he has already left office.

House impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-M.D.) began his opening argument with a montage of clips from last month’s riot, combined with a recap of the certification of the electoral vote occurring inside the Congress building. 

He denounced the January exception, the reasoning Trump’s defense team is using to justify why trying a president for impeachment in his last days in office or after he has left the White House is dangerous. Raskin cited constitutional lawyers and conservative scholars like Federalist Society founder Steven Calebresi and GOP lawyer Charles Cooper, who have said that the trial is constitutional.

“All means all. There are no exceptions to the rule,” Raskin said during his remarks. “Because the Senate has jurisdiction to try all impeachments, it most certainly has jurisdiction to try this one. It’s really that simple.”

Rep. Joe Neguse (D-C.O.), a former litigator in private practice, followed Raskin with a close analysis of constitutional and legal texts to support his argument that the trial was constitutional. 

Trump’s defense team started off with lead counsel Bruce Castor’s opening remarks, where he praised members of the Senate and argued that the Electoral College ultimately worked in the Democrats’ favor to elect Joe Biden as president.

“We are really here because the majority in the House of Representatives does not want to face Donald Trump as their political rival in the future,” Castor said. “That’s the real reason we’re here. And that’s why they have to get over the jurisdictional hurdle, which they can’t get over.”

The next member of Trump’s team, lawyer David Schoen, criticized Raskin’s video and then played a series of clips of Democrats calling for the former president’s impeachment since 2017. He argued that because Trump is now a private citizen and cannot be removed from office, it is unconstitutional to try him for impeachment. 

After both sides debated for 4 hours, the Senate voted that Trump’s second impeachment trial was constitutional in a 56-44 vote. The six Republicans that sided with Democrats were Sens. Mitt Romney (R-U.T.), Lisa Murkowski (R-A.K.), Susan Collins (R-M.E.), Patrick Toomey (R-P.A.), Ben Sasse (R-N.E.) and Bill Cassidy (R-L.A.).

“If you listen to [Trump’s defense team’s argument], it speaks for itself. It was disorganized, random. They talked about many things, but they didn’t talk about the issue at hand,” Cassidy said in an interview with reporters after the vote. “If I’m an impartial juror, and I’m trying to make a decision based on the facts as presented on this issue, then the House managers did a much better job.”