Senate acquits Trump, Democrats scramble over 2020 and Kirk Douglas leaves a spirited legacy: The Morning Rundown

Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah was the only Republican to break ranks by voting to convict Trump.
Mitt Romney Campaigns In Wisconsin And Ohio
"The president is guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust," Sen. Mitt Romney said, explaining his vote to convict President Donald Trump on one article of impeachment. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

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By Petra Cahill

Good morning, NBC News readers.

President Donald Trump was acquitted by the Senate yesterday evening, ending the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history.

Here's what we're watching this Thursday morning.


Senate acquits Trump on both impeachment articles

The Senate on Wednesday acquitted President Donald Trump on charges of abusing his power and obstructing Congress.

Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah was the lone Republican to cross party lines with a vote to convict Trump on abuse of power.

Trump's allies reveled in the end of the "hoax" impeachment with many tweeting "#Acquitted Forever" after the vote. Democrats lamented that the votes "normalized lawlessness."

While the president's acquittal was expected, given the Republican majority in the upper chamber, the path wasn't easy. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's maneuvers certainly helped ease the way.

Still the public rebuke by Romney, the party's one-time standard bearer, is sure to sting.

Calling it the "most difficult decision" of his life in an emotional speech on the Senate floor, Romney said Trump's actions were "a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security interests, and our fundamental values." (Read the full text here).

The backlash against him was swift, with the president's son, Donald Trump Jr., calling for his expulsion from the GOP.

But Trump himself was in celebratory mood, announcing on Twitter a public statement at 12 p.m. ET to discuss what he called "our Country’s VICTORY."


'One place left to hold him accountable': Trump acquittal raises stakes for Democrats

Now that Trump has survived impeachment, a federal investigation and three years of near-constant legal and in-the-streets resistance, Democrats have just one shot left: the presidential election.

But some of the president's critics fear that their field of candidates isn't up to beating him with New Hampshire's primary days away.

With more votes coming in from Monday's botched Iowa caucuses, Sen. Bernie Sanders appears to have narrowed the gap and may overtake former mayor Pete Buttigieg to win the state. Keep an eye on our live blog for updates and analysis as results come in.


Coronavirus cruise ship fears

The death toll in a novel coronavirus outbreak in mainland China has risen to at least 563 — up from 490 on Wednesday.

More than 28,000 cases have been confirmed across the country, according to the latest figures released by China's National Health Commission.

Meanwhile, two cruise ships are in quarantine — one in Hong Kong and the other in Japan — as thousands of passengers and crew members are screened for the new coronavirus.

So far, 20 cases — including three Americans — have been confirmed aboard the Diamond Princess, stationed off Yokohama, south of Tokyo.

Check here for the latest on the outbreak and the global response.


Kirk Douglas, legendary Hollywood tough guy, dies at 103

Kirk Douglas, one of Hollywood's most beloved tough guys on screen and a defender of blacklisted artists off screen, died Wednesday at age 103.

Douglas, who publicly fought his way back from a severe stroke in 1996, will be remembered for the grit and determination he showed on screen in action epics like "Spartacus," biopics like "Lust for Life" and more intimate character studies like "Lonely Are the Brave."

You can see his tenacious spirit in these nine movies.

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Plus


THINK about it

The Senate's impeachment vote result was predictable — now the ball's in America's court, cultural critic Noah Bertlatsky writes in an opinion piece.


Shopping

It's cold out there. Here's how to care for dry, cracked heels, according to dermatologists.


Quote of the day

"With my vote, I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty to the best of my ability, believing that my country expected it of me."

Sen. Mitt Romney, R- Utah, explaining why he was voting to convict Trump of abuse of power.


One fun thing

The Senate's acquittal of Trump provided late night comedians with plenty of fodder.

"[Trump] never learns. The day after Robert Mueller testified was the day he threatened Ukraine and Biden. Tomorrow he’ll probably call China to see if he can give Bernie the coronavirus," quipped Jimmy Kimmel.

Trevor Noah joked about Romney, saying, "Who would have thought that the most bad-a** Republican in the Senate would end up being a Mormon dude named Mitt?"

Watch our roundup below.

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Thanks for reading the Morning Rundown.

If you have any comments — likes, dislikes — drop me an email at: petra@nbcuni.com

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Thanks, Petra