Donald Trump’s second acquittal summary
That’s it from me tonight, after a historic day in Washington. Here’s how the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump came to a close today:
- The Senate voted to acquit Donald Trump of incitement of insurrection in a vote of 57-43. The decision came a little over a month after the president incited a group of his supporters to stage a violent insurrection at the US Capitol, resulting in five deaths.
- Seven Senate Republicans joined their Democratic colleagues in supporting Trump’s conviction. Republican Senators Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraka and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania voted to find Trump guilty of incitement of insurrection. Although the former president was still acquitted, this marked the most bipartisan impeachment vote in Senate history.
- The trial came to a swift end after House impeachment managers reversed their decision to call witnesses. The Senate approved a resolution to allow the managers to request witness testimony, but the managers eventually decided to instead just admit a statement from congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler to the official trial record rather than calling any witnesses. After the statement was accepted, the trial moved on to closing arguments and the final vote.
- Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer expressed dismay over the vote to acquit Trump. The Democratic leader urged Americans to never forget the violence and destruction of the Capitol insurrection. “My fellow Americans: remember that day, January 6th, forever — the final, terrible legacy of the 45th president of the United States and undoubtedly our worst,” Schumer said. “Let it live on in infamy, a stain on Donald John Trump that can never, never be washed away.”
- Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell directly blamed Trump for the insurrection, even though he voted to acquit the former president. “There’s no question, none, that President Trump is practically, and morally, responsible for provoking the events of the day,” McConnell said in a floor speech after the vote. But the Republican leader argued he could not support conviction because it was not appropriate to hold an impeachment trial for a president who had already left office. McConnell interestingly suggested it was still possible for Trump to be held criminally responsible for the insurrection.
Thanks for following along with our impeachment trial coverage tonight. Tune back in tomorrow, when the live blog will cover more fallout from the acquittal vote.
TJ Ducklo confirmed in his own statement that he has offered his resignation as deputy press secretary for Joe Biden.
Ducklo expressed regret over threatening a White House reporter who raised questions about his romantic relationship with another journalist.
“I know this was terrible. I know I can’t take it back,” Ducklo said in the statement. “But I also know I can learn from it and do better.”
The White House has not yet released a statement about the end of the impeachment trial, but press secretary Jen Psaki just announced that deputy press secretary TJ Ducklo has resigned.
“We accepted the resignation of TJ Ducklo after a discussion with him this evening. This conversation occurred with the support of the White House Chief of Staff,” Psaki said in a statement.
“We are committed to striving every day to meet the standard set by the President in treating others with dignity and respect, with civility and with a value for others through our words and our actions.”
The statement comes a day after Vanity Fair reported that Ducklo made insulting and threatening comments to a reporter who posed questions about his romantic relationship with another journalist. The White House announced yesterday that Ducklo would be suspended for one week.
Donald Trump has reportedly voiced concern that he may be held criminally responsible for the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol.
Trump has privately voiced concern in the last two weeks about whether he could face charges as a result of the January 6 riot he’s accused of inciting, according to multiple people.
Trump has mainly been quiet since leaving the White House last month, and his silence has been in part related to those concerns.
‘He’s worried about it,’ one adviser close to Trump told CNN.
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell raised the possibility that Trump could face criminal consequences for inciting the insurrection, after he voted to acquit Trump in the impeachment trial.
“President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he’s in office,” McConnell said in a floor speech after the acquittal vote. “He didn’t get away with anything yet.”
Louisiana GOP censures Cassidy over conviction vote
The executive committee of the Republican party of Louisiana has unanimously decided to censure Senator Bill Cassidy over his vote to convict Donald Trump of incitement of insurrection.
The state party said in an earlier statement, “We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the vote today by Sen. Cassidy to convict former President Trump. Fortunately, clearer heads prevailed and President Trump has been acquitted of the impeachment charge filed against him.”
The censure mirrors similar efforts in states like Arizona, where the state GOP voted last month to censure three prominent members of the party, including Governor Doug Ducey, for being insufficiently loyal to Trump.
The Guardian’s Washington bureau chief, David Smith, wrote last month about how state-level Republican groups are becoming increasingly extremist:
Senator Susan Collins, one of seven Republicans who voted to convict Donald Trump, said that the former president spent weeks inciting the violence at the Capitol by spewing lies about the November election.
“This impeachment trial is not about any single word uttered by President Trump on January 6, 2021. It is instead about President Trump’s failure to obey the oath he swore on January 20, 2017,” Collins said in a floor speech.
“His actions to interfere with the peaceful transition of power – the hallmark of our constitution and our American democracy – were an abuse of power and constitute grounds for conviction.”
Collins, who won reelection in November, also dismissed arguments from Trump’s lawyers that his January 6 speech was protected by the First Amendment.
“The First Amendment was not designed and has never been construed by any court to bar the impeachment and conviction of an official who violates his oath of office by summoning and inciting a mob to threaten other officials in the discharge of their constitutional obligations,” Collins said.
She concluded her remarks by saying, “My vote in this trial stems from my own oath and duty to defend the Constitution of the United States. The abuse of power and betrayal of his oath by President Trump meet the constitutional standard of ‘high crimes and misdemeanors,’ and for those reasons I voted to convict Donald J. Trump.”
Fox News seemed to suggest the Republicans who supported convicting Donald Trump had betrayed their voters, saying in a news alert that the seven senators “turned their backs” on the former president.
The Republican senators who supported conviction have said they made their votes based on a desire to protect the constitution and hold Trump accountable for inciting the Capitol insurrection.
Senator Lisa Murkowski was one of the seven Republicans who voted to convict Donald Trump in the impeachment trial. Of those seven Republicans, Murkowski is the only one who is up for reelection next year.
Murkowski said in an interview that she felt it was important for her to stand up for her values with this vote.
“If I can’t say what I believe that our president should stand for, then why should I ask Alaskans to stand with me?” Murkowski told Politico.
“This was consequential on many levels, but I cannot allow the significance of my vote, to be devalued by whether or not I feel that this is helpful for my political ambitions.”
Pelosi ridicules McConnell’s ‘pathetic’ rationale for acquittal
House speaker Nancy Pelosi expanded upon her thoughts on Donald Trump’s acquittal in a statement released by her office.
“Donald Trump’s incitement of insurrection against our Democracy put Senators, Members of Congress, staff and heroic law enforcement officers in mortal danger,” the Democratic speaker said. “It is the most grievous constitutional crime ever committed by a president and is clearly deserving of conviction.”
Pelosi applauded the Republican senators who voted to convict Trump, while condemning the 43 Republicans who allowed the former president to be acquitted.
“I salute the Republican Senators who voted their conscience and for our Country,” Pelosi said. “Other Senate Republicans’ refusal to hold Trump accountable for igniting a violent insurrection to cling to power will go down as one of the darkest days and most dishonorable acts in our nation’s history.”
Pelosi specifically criticized Mitch McConnell for arguing the impeachment trial was unconstitutional because Trump had already left office, when the then-majority leader refused to call the Senate back for an emergency session to start the trial in January.
“It is so pathetic that Senator McConnell kept the Senate shut down so that the Senate could not receive the Article of Impeachment and has used that as his excuse for not voting to convict Donald Trump,” Pelosi said.
“Tragically, Senate Republicans who voted not to convict chose to abandon the Constitution, the Country and the American people with this vote. Thank God for the judges and Republican elected officials across the country who pushed back against Donald Trump’s attempted overturning of our election which fueled the insurrection.”
Impeachment manager Joaquin Castro noted that the Senate Republicans who voted to acquit did not attempt to defend Donald Trump’s actions on 6 January.
Instead, Senate Republicans focused their arguments for acquittal on the idea that it is unconstitutional to hold an impeachment trial for a president who has already left office.
“The defendant, President Donald John Trump, was let off on a technicality,” Castro said.
It’s worth noting that the Senate held two votes on the constitutionality of the impeachment trial. Both votes upheld the trial’s constitutionality, with several Republicans joining Democrats to move forward with the proceedings.
Impeachment manager Stacey Plaskett said the House team chose not to call witnesses in part because it would have likely “required subpoenas and months of litigation”.
Plaskett said that those who may have been able to testify to Donald Trump’s actions and mindset on 6 January were “not friendly” to the impeachment managers and were thus unlikely to willingly testify.
Lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin said the White House was not involved in the decision to abandon the effort to call witnesses in the impeachment trial.
The Senate voted this morning to allow the impeachment managers to request witness testimony, but the managers instead chose to simply admit congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler’s statement to the official record and move on to closing arguments.
“I made the call,” Raskin said, adding that he “never spoke to anyone from the White House”.
Pelosi condemns ‘cowardly’ Republicans who voted to acquit Trump
House speaker Nancy Pelosi joined the impeachment managers’ press conference and applauded the work they did in the trial over the past week.
The Democratic speaker denounced the “cowardly group of Republicans” who refused to hold Donald Trump accountable for inciting the January 6 insurrection.
Pelosi specifically criticized Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell for refusing to call an emergency session to begin the impeachment trial and then using the trial’s delay as a reason to acquit Trump.
The speaker also dismissed the possibility of issuing a censure against Trump over the January 6 insurrection, saying it would be an insufficient response.
“We censure people for using stationery for the wrong purpose. We don’t censure people for inciting insurrection,” Pelosi said.
Lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin defended his team’s decision to not call any witnesses after the Senate approved a resolution allowing them to request witness testimony.
Raskin noted that Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged Trump was directly responsible for the 6 January insurrection. McConnell said he voted to acquit Trump because he did not believe the Senate had jurisdiction to try a former president.
“All of them are hinging it on a legal argument,” Raskin said of the Republicans who voted to acquit. “That could never be overcome by any number of witnesses.”
House impeachment managers hold press conference after acquittal
The House impeachment managers are now holding a press conference, after the Senate voted to acquit Donald Trump.
Lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin expressed pride in the work done by his team, even though they did not get the verdict they wanted.
Raskin noted that the final vote was the most bipartisan impeachment vote in the history of the US Senate. Raskin also referenced Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell’s speech moments ago, which echoed arguments made by the impeachment managers, even though McConnell voted to acquit.
“The bottom line is that, we convinced a big majority in the Senate of our case,” Raskin said.
Senator Bill Cassidy, one of seven Republicans who voted to convict Donald Trump, released a short video explaining his decision.
“Our constitution and our country is more important than any one person,” the Louisiana senator said in the video. “I voted to convict President Trump because he is guilty.”
Cassidy surprised viewers of the impeachment trial earlier this week, when he voted with Democrats to uphold the constitutionality of the trial.
Cassidy was the only senator who changed his mind from an earlier vote on whether it was constitutional to hold an impeachment trial for a president who had already left office.