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Feb. 13 highlights: Trump acquitted in Senate impeachment trial for second time

The House impeached Trump last month for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Seven Republican senators voted to convict him.
Image: Illustration shows former President Donald Trump between teal and red strips that show the Capitol and words like \"impeached\" \"high crimes\" and insurrection.
Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

The Senate on Saturday acquitted former President Donald Trump in a 57-43 vote in his second impeachment trial.

The vote came on the fifth day of trial after the House impeached Trump last month on a charge of incitement of insurrection for his role in the deadly attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6. There were seven Republican senators who voted in favor of conviction, short of the 67 total votes needed to bar Trump from running for public office again.

The trial was the fourth of an impeached president, the second for Trump. No president has ever been convicted.

The Democrats argued that Trump purposely incited a mob of his supporters to storm the Capitol in an effort to overturn the results of the presidential election he lost to Joe Biden, after months of laying the groundwork by relentlessly pushing false election fraud claims.

In response, Trump's lawyers argued that his speech at the rally that preceded the riot was "ordinary political rhetoric" protected by the Constitution, and claimed that Democrats were motivated by their "political hatred" of the former president and impeached him as an act of retribution.

Trump issued a statement after the vote thanking his team and saying this was "yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our Country."

This live coverage has ended. For more politics coverage, head to

What's next for the GOP after Trump acquittal?

Louisiana GOP unanimously censures Sen. Cassidy over impeachment vote

Ali Vitali

"The Executive Committee of the Republican Party of Louisiana has unanimously voted to censure Senator Bill Cassidy for his vote cast earlier today to convict former President Donald J. Trump on the impeachment charge," the Louisiana GOP said in statement just a few hours after Cassidy, R-La., joined six other Republicans in voting to convict the former president. 

Cassidy said in a video posted to Twitter that he "voted to convict President Trump because he is guilty.":

Herrera Beutler would have testified, spokesman says

Alex Moe

Haley Talbot

Alex Moe and Haley Talbot

“Rep. Herrera Beutler offered all the information she had, and she would have testified under oath," said her communications director, Craig Wheeler.

House mangers opened Saturday morning by announcing that they wanted to subpoena Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., about her communications with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

'Cowardly group of Republicans': Pelosi on senators who voted to acquit Trump

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., criticized Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for his speech condemning former President Donald Trump after voting to acquit him.

"He was hedging all over the place," Pelosi said. "It was a very disingenuous speech and I say that regretfully because I always want to be able to work with the leadership of the other party."

Pelosi criticized McConnell for delaying the Senate trial until after Inauguration Day, and then using Trump's status as a former president to argue that the Senate no longer had jurisdiction. 

"What is so important about the political survival than any one of us that is more important than our constitution that we take an oath to protect?" Pelosi continued, calling the senators who voted to acquit a "cowardly group of Republicans." 

Still, House manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., celebrated the vote as the "most bipartisan" in history and took McConnell's floor speech as a sign of concession that the managers had proven their case. 

"It is what it is. Mitch McConnell clearly feels that Donald Trump remains a huge problem for the Republican Party," he said.

Raskin touched on the episode earlier this morning when the House mangers made a last-minute push to include witnesses, delaying the trial for a few hours. 

He said their intention was to get a statement from Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., entered as evidence. Once that was agreed on, they saw no reason to pursue additional witnesses due to the fact that Republicans were not hinging their decision on the evidence presented but rather on an argument that the Senate lacks jurisdiction.

"All of them are hinging it on a legal argument that could never have been overcome by any number of witnesses," Raskin said.

RNC already fundraising off of Trump's acquittal

The Republican National Committee has already started fundraising off of Trump's acquittal. A text message sent to supporters said: "BREAKING: Pres Trump has been ACQUITTED! Do you stand with the Republican Party? Donate NOW & DOUBLE your impact."

"ACQUITTED AT LAST! The biggest political circus of ALL TIME is finally over and we want to send a message that the Republican Party is STRONGER THAN EVER BEFORE," it continued. 

It asked people to contribute "ANY AMOUNT IMMEDIATELY to stand with the Republican Party."

GOP Sen. Toomey: Trump's 'betrayal of the Constitution and his oath of office required conviction'

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said in a statement explaining his vote to convict Trump on the article of impeachment that the former president's "betrayal of the Constitution and his oath of office required conviction."

Toomey said that Trump began with "dishonest" attempts to convince voters that he had won the 2020 election and applied "intense pressure" on election officials to reverse the results in their states.

 “When these efforts failed, President Trump summoned thousands to Washington, D.C. and inflamed their passions by repeating disproven allegations about widespread fraud," he said. "He urged the mob to march on the Capitol for the explicit purpose of preventing Congress and the vice president from formally certifying the results of the presidential election. All of this to hold on to power despite having legitimately lost." 

“As a result of President Trump’s actions, for the first time in American history, the transfer of presidential power was not peaceful," Toomey said, adding that he voted for Trump during the election. 

"Unfortunately, his behavior after the election betrayed the confidence millions of us placed in him. His betrayal of the Constitution and his oath of office required conviction," Toomey said. 

Moments after voting to acquit, McConnell says Trump was 'responsible for provoking' the attack

After voting in favor of former President Donald Trump, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., delivered a scathing rebuke of the former president's actions, a move that appeared at odds with his vote to acquit just moments earlier. 

"There's no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day," McConnell said on the Senate floor.

"The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president," he said. "And having that belief was a forceable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories and reckless hyperbole, which the defeated president kept shouting out through the largest megaphone on planet earth."

McConnell also acknowledged that Trump did not respond swiftly once it was clear that then-Vice President Mike Pence and Congress members were in danger, saying that Trump instead "watched television happily as the chaos unfolded."

McConnell said he ultimately did not to vote for conviction because he did not believe the constitution allows for the Senate to convict a former president. He could have called the Senate back into session earlier to ensure that the trial happened while Trump was still in office, but didn't.

"If President Tump were still in office I would have carefully considered whether the House managers proved their specific charge," he said. "The question is moot because former President Trump is constitutionally not eligible for conviction."

McConnell said the vote to acquit did not excuse Trump's behavior and said that the former president is still liable for everything he did while in office now that he is a private citizen. 

Read more here.

GOP Sen. Cassidy explains why he voted to convict

Key takeaways: With acquittal, Trump wins battle for the Republican soul

The Republican civil war ended on Feb. 13, 2021. Donald Trump won.

The decision by most GOP senators to acquit Trump in the 57-43 vote on charges of incitement of insurrection on the Capitol demonstrates that there is little appetite in the party to denounce the former president or his brand of politics. That comes despite Trump's alleged role in the deadly Jan. 6 siege that endangered their safety and that of others, in a failed attempt to overturn his defeat in the 2020 election.

While the Senate achieved a majority of votes to convict Trump, with seven Republicans joining all 50 Democrats, it fell short of the two-thirds majority of 67 votes required under the Constitution for the vote to convict to pass.

The impacts are likely to reverberate in American politics for years.

Here's how it affects the relevant parties.

Reacting to his acquittal, Trump says trial was another phase of nation's greatest 'witch hunt'

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

In a statement following the Senate vote to acquit him, Trump thanked his legal team and the senators who declared him not guilty of inciting the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Trump blasted the Democratic Party and said that he has always stood for the rule of law.

"It is a sad commentary on our times that one political party in America is given a free pass to denigrate the rule of law, defame law enforcement, cheer mobs, excuse rioters, and transform justice into a tool of political vengeance, and persecute, blacklist, cancel and suppress all people and viewpoints with whom or which they disagree," Trump said.

"I always have, and always will, be a champion for the unwavering rule of law, the heroes of law enforcement, and the right of Americans to peacefully and honorably debate the issues of the day without malice and without hate," he added.

Trump said that this was "yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our Country." 

The former president also suggested that he would not remain out of the public eye moving forward.

"Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun," he said. "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. There has never been anything like it!"

Cassidy, Burr swapped a note on the Senate floor

Marianna Sotomayor

Minutes before the final impeachment vote, Cassidy handed Burr a note after walking onto the floor along with Romney. All three men went on to vote "guilty."

When asked afterward what was on the note Cassidy handed over, Burr joked “a valentine.”

Schumer: 'The failure to convict Donald Trump will live as a vote of infamy'

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., condemned 43 of his GOP colleagues for voting to acquit Trump for incitement of insurrection on Jan. 6. 

Schumer said in remarks on the Senate floor that the case was "open and shut" because Trump told his "big lie" that the 2020 election was stolen and incited his supporters in response. He rejected the First Amendment argument Trump's team of lawyers used to defend the former president. 

"January 6 would not have happened but for the actions of Donald Trump," the majority leader said.

"January 6 will live as a day of infamy in the history of the United States of America," he said. "The failure to convict Donald Trump will live as a vote of infamy in the history of the United States Senate. The former president tried to overturn the results of a legitimate election and provoked an assault on our own government, and well over half the Senate Republican Conference decided to condone it."

Schumer said what Trump did was "the most despicable act that any president has ever committed" and "the majority of Republicans cannot summon the courage, the morality, to condemn it."

Schumer said he saluted the seven GOP senators who voted to convict Trump, calling them "patriots." 

While the Senate did not convict Trump, Schumer said, "I believe he will be convicted in the court of public opinion. He deserves to be permanently discredited, and I believe he has been discredited in the eyes of the American people and in the judgment of history."

Senate acquits Trump for the incitement of Capitol riot in 57-43 vote

The Senate has acquitted former President Donald Trump in a 57-43 vote that began just after 3:30 p.m. ET following closing arguments from both sides. 

This comes on the fifth day of trial after the House impeached Trump last month for incitement of an insurrection for his role in inciting the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6. Seven Republican senators voted in favor of conviction. 

The Republicans who voted to convict were 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. Burr and Toomey are retiring from Congress in 2022.

It was the most votes to convict a president by senators from their party in history. No senator had ever voted to convict a president from their own party until last year, when Romney became the first.

It would have taken 67 votes to convict Trump and the Senate would have been able to bar him from running for office again, but because he was acquitted, he can. 

Trump has now been acquitted twice by the Senate. The first time was in Feb. 2020 after he was impeached by the House for the first time over his dealings with Ukraine.

House Democratic impeachment managers gave five minutes notice about witness request


Leigh Ann Caldwell

Alex Moe

Leigh Ann Caldwell, Alex Moe and Garrett Haake

House Democratic impeachment managers gave only 5 minutes of warning to Senate Democrats that they planned to try to call witnesses in the impeachment trial, according to multiple sources familiar with how the request played out.

The decision to request witnesses, which Democrats quickly abandoned in exchange of having a statement from Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., entered in the record, raised eyebrows because it was a request that appeared to lack much overarching strategy.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., made the request on the Senate floor at 10 a.m. And at 9:15 a.m. that morning, Senate Democrats had been told that Democrats weren’t going to request witnesses. It wasn’t until 9:55 a.m. that they let their fellow Democrats know the impeachment managers had changed their minds.



Defense says Democrats, trial and rioters are in the wrong — not Trump

Trump attorney Michael van der Veen delivered the defense's closing statements Saturday afternoon, casting blame on the House managers prosecuting the case and arguing that Trump had done nothing wrong.

In falsehood-riddled remarks, van der Veen slammed the House managers “tortured analysis” and use of “truly sideways analogies,” and defended the president as utterly blameless.

He repeatedly argued that legal norms and precedents like the Brandenburg test applied to the case, despite the fact that impeachment is a political, not criminal sanction; senators are not governed as a judge would be by the parameters of criminal law.  

“Why would the House managers make up their own legal standard?" he asked. "I’ll tell you why, because they know they cannot satisfy the existing constitutional standard set forth by the United State Supreme Court that has existed for more than half a century.”

Van der Veen also argued that the attacks on the Capitol were premeditated and preplanned and those rioters were responsible for those crimes, but that the former president couldn’t have incited them in his speech beforehand. He did not address the House manager’s claims that Trump had incited his supporters through months of inflammatory rhetoric.

Van der Veen also repeatedly complained about the process, falsely claiming that Democrats could have had scheduled a Senate trial in January if they’d chosen to do so. In fact, then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to schedule the trial during Trump’s term.

“This has been possibly the most unfair and flagrantly unconstitutional proceeding in the history of the United States Senate,” van der Veen said, claiming that the House managers had “shamefully trampled every tradition standard or norm of due process.”

He claimed Democrats had fabricated evidence because one of their slides had added a blue-check verification symbol next to a Twitter account of a user who does not have one. A senior aide to the Democratic team said it had been accidentally added, but that the substance of the tweet is correct.

Van der Veen said the trial was an "unhinged" political pursuit and that the senators must vote to acquit the president.

"It is time to bring this unconstitutional political theater to an end," he concluded. "It is time to allow our nation to move forward. It is time to address the real business pressing this nation."

Neguse quotes MLK in closing statement: 'I've decided to stick with love'

Before wrapping up his arguments Saturday, Rep. Joe Neguse quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to refute the defense team's statements that Democrats were motived to impeach Trump by their hatred of him.

Noting that the quotation had sustained him in times of adversity, Neguse said "that 'I've decided to stick with love,' that 'hate is too great a burden to bear.'"

"This trial is not born from hatred," he said. "Far from it. It's born from love of country. Our country. Our desire to maintain it. Our desire to see America at its best."

Moments from the Civil Rights era like that of King are remembered because they "help define and enshrine America at its best," the Colorado Democrat said. Congress' certification of electoral votes after the riot on Jan. 6 likewise would go down in history as one of those moments, and the Senate could rise to the occasion again today, he said.

Raskin rests managers' case asking Senate if this is the America they want to leave to the future

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., rested the House managers' case against former President Donald Trump by getting personal and asking senators whether this is the America they want to leave their children and grandchildren. 

Raskin said that his daughter Hannah told him Friday night that she felt sorry for the child of a man who said goodbye to his children before he left home to come to Washington to participate in the attack on the Capitol.

"The father told them that their dad might not be coming home again and they might never see him again," Raskin said. "In other words, he was expecting violence — he might die as insurrectionists did."

Raskin said that his daughter's words "shook me" because she was "someone who just lost her brother who doesn't want to see any other kids in America go through that kind of agony and grief." Raskin's son, Tommy, died by suicide in late December. 

"That was one of the most patriotic things I ever heard anybody say — the children of the insurrectionists, even the violent and dangerous ones, they're our children, too. They are Americans and we must take care of them in their future," Raskin said. 

"We must take care of our people and our children, their hearts and their minds. As Tommy Raskin used to say, 'It's hard to be human.'"

"Is this what we want to bequeath for our children or grandchildren?" Raskin asked the senators.

Raskin said that no matter what each senator came to Washington to do, how they vote in this trial will almost certainly be "how you will be remembered by history."

"None of us can escape the demands of history and destiny right now," he said. "Our reputations and our legacy will be inextricably intertwined with what we do here."

Capitol officer Goodman said his kids are keeping him 'mentally in the norm'

Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman, who will receive the Congressional Gold Medal for his heroic actions during the riot, is assigned to the security post in the press gallery Friday and was asked about the attention being heaped upon him by a gallery staff member.

When asked if he was ready for the attention to subside, he shook his head and sighed as if exhausted.

“My daughter, she’s 13 — she could care less though she just wants her video games.” His kids are keeping him “mentally in the norm,” he said.

Goodman received a standing ovation during a break of the impeachment trial on Friday, when it was announced he would receive the Congress' highest honor. Goodman was seen on video during attack leading the mob away from the Senate chamber and to a different area as lawmakers escaped. 

Defense team starts their closing argument

Zach Haberman

After just over an hour and half, the House managers finished their closing arguments and Trump defense team started their turn. 

Both sides split a four-hour block of time for their closings and Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., yielded the House managers' remaining 28 minutes.  

Neguse, rebutting Trump defense, urges senators to not let violence be 'new normal'

Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., picked up the House managers' closing argument, knocking key pillars in the defenses' argument as "distractions."

"Why would the Constitution include the impeachment power at all if the criminal justice system serves as a suitable alternative?" Neguse asked, responding to President Donald Trump's argument that he was a private citizen and no longer president. 

Neguse also said Trump's argument that his actions did not meet the criminal statute of incitement was moot because the Senate trial was of constitutional matters and not criminal. Neguse said when the defense drew parallels between Trump's language and Democratic politicians who used words like "fight," that the impeachment managers trusted senators "to know the difference." 

"All of these arguments offered by the president have one fundamental thing in common," Neguse said. "They have nothing to do factually with whether or not the president incited this attack." 

Neguse closed out by imploring senators to rise to the occasion or risk another attack happening again.

"The cold, hard truth is that what happened on Jan. 6 can happen again," Neguse said.

"I fear, like many of you do, that the violence we saw on that terrible day may be just the beginning. Senators, this cannot be the beginning. It cannot be the new normal. It has to end, and that decision is in your hands."

Rep. Dean rejects three arguments made by Trump defense team

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., spent her closing arguments rejecting three claims raised by Trump's defense team. 

First, Dean said that the former president's lawyers have suggested that this case involved only one speech made by Trump on Jan. 6 and one speech cannot incite an insurrection. 

"We argued, and the evidence overwhelmingly confirms, that Donald Trump's conduct over many months incited his supporters," Dean said, saying that he convinced his backers to believe his "big lie" that the 2020 election was stolen, that they needed to stop the stop the steal and to "fight" to stop it.

Trump's conduct "took time," Dean said, and "culminated" in Trump sending a save the date invitation on Dec. 19 for the event on Jan. 6. She said that the president also spent $50 million from his legal defense fund to broadcast his message to "stop the steal" on all major networks. 

Second, Dean said that Trump's counsel said that there was no way that Trump could have known what would happen. She said that he knew, as he looked out onto the crowd of thousands of his supporters that they would become violent, as some wore body armor, helmets and others were carrying weapons. 

Third, Dean said that Trump's lawyers have suggested that his supporters went to Washington on their own. 

"It is not true that they did so of their own accord and for their own reasons," she said. "The evidence makes clear the exact opposite, that they did this for Donald Trump at his invitation, at his direction, at his command."

Dean was interrupted a few times because Republicans objected to some of the evidence she raised, arguing that it wasn't entered into the record to begin with. These objections led to some pauses in the arguments.

Lee angry about his evidence again

Sen. Lee was angry about the presentation of evidence related to his phone and email conversations, which was already struck down earlier this week.

Lee called for a point of order and was shut down after Cicilline brought up the evidence again. When they went to quorum call he stormed over to defense table to complain, and he could clearly be heard saying,  “We took them at their word that that was withdrawn. Now they’ve just reinserted it.”

Sens. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, and Kristen Gillibrand, D-N.Y., came over from the Democratic side to hear Lee out, and then went to confer with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

"New evidence is not permitted in closing arguments," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. says, who is overseeing the trial, which which basically means Lee “won” this back and forth. 

Cicilline walks through timeline of Trump's actions on Jan. 6th as closing arguments continue

Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., continued to make the closing argument in the impeachment trial, using his floor time to lay out the timeline of events on Jan. 6th in an effort to undermine the defense's argument that then-President Donald Trump was unaware of the imminent danger that lawmakers faced that day. 

"With each passing minute on the timeline of Jan. 6th, it grows more and more inconceivable," Cicilline said.

"It was unfolding on live TV in front of the entire world. Does it strike you as credible that nobody, not a single person, informed the president that his vice president had been evacuated? Or that the president didn't glance at the television? Or his Twitter account?"

Cicilline also referenced the phone calls that Trump placed to Sens. Mike Lee and Tommy Tuberville as well as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy that contradict Trump's lawyers argument that the president was unaware of what was going on.  

"He willfully betrayed us. He violated his oath," Cicilline said. 

The House managers began their argument shortly before 1 p.m. ET, meaning they should conclude around 3 p.m. before it goes to the defense. The defense is not expected to use their entire two hours.

Raskin begins closing arguments by quoting Liz Cheney saying Trump 'lit the flame of the attack'

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., began his closing arguments in the trial by quoting what Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., chairwoman of the House GOP Conference, said about the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. 

Raskin said that the House Democratic managers offered "overwhelming and irrefutable" evidence that Trump "incited this insurrection against us." 

Raskin read Cheney's statement in wake of the riot. 

"The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing. None of this would have happened without the President," she said. "There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution. I will vote to impeach the President.”

Raskin, who went on to call Cheney a "hero," said that Trump's team rejected the request made by managers last week for the former president to testify before Congress. Cheney, has faced wrath from within the Republican Party for refusing to apologize for her vote.

The lead manager summarized the evidence his team presented and said they showed the Senate hour after hour of real-time evidence "demonstrating every step of Donald Trump's constitutional crime."

"President Trump tried to bully state-level officials to commit fraud on the public by literally finding votes," Raskin said. 

"Incitement, as we discussed, requires an inherently fact based evidentiary inquiries. And this is what we did," said Raskin, who said that Trump assembled and incited the mob on Jan. 6 and sent them off to the Capitol where they yelled they were invited by the president. 

Former Rep. Amash: Decision not to call witnesses 'a huge mistake'

Senate reaches deal to forgo witnesses, setting up potential for final vote on Saturday

The Senate agreed to forgo witnesses, opting instead to enter Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler's evidence into the record, stipulated as hearsay.

House manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, read Herrera Beutler's statement on the Senate floor before moving on to closing arguments. 

Herrera Beutler, R-Wash, who voted to impeach Trump, detailed a discussion with House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy about his attempts to get Trump to call off the mob on Jan. 6.

In her statement, Herrera Beutler said that Trump told McCarthy during the riot that the mob was more upset about the election results than McCarthy was.

With no other witnesses being pursued, the trial could still end as early today. 

Trial resumes after long recess

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

The trial has resumed. Trump lawyer Castor said it would allow Herrera Beutler's statement to be read into the record. Raskin is now reading her statement on the Senate floor.

Marjorie Taylor Greene warns Herrera Beutler: 'The Trump loyal 75 million are watching'

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., one of President Donald Trump's most devoted allies on Capitol Hill who is known for her beliefs in racist conspiracy theories and QAnon, attacked Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., on Twitter and issued a thinly veiled threat after Beutler spoke out against the former president. 

"The gift that keeps on giving to the Democrats," Greene tweeted Saturday. "The Trump loyal 75 million are watching."

In a Friday night statement, Herrera Beutler confirmed news reports detailing a Jan. 6 call between House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy and Trump that contradicts Trump's lawyers argument that he was immediately "horrified" by the attack on the Capitol and took swift action.

House managers had suggested they were interested in calling Herrera Beutler, one of a handful of House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump, to testify. 

Sen. Merkley: Calling witnesses could lead to suspension of trial for 'weeks' while deposed

Senate recesses until 12:30 p.m. ET

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

The Senate has recessed until 12:30 p.m. ET as senators decide how to move forward in the impeachment trial in light of the vote to allow witnesses. 

White House stressing they're not involved in trial amid witness discussion

Jacob Gardenswartz

Amid the surprise developments in the Senate this morning with the unexpected vote to allow calling witnesses, a top White House official still stresses that they are “not involved in impeachment in any way.”

Pressed if calling witnesses will impact President Biden’s agenda, the official says “no,” adding that the White House is focused on getting Americans vaccinated.

On the state of Covid relief given the new developments in impeachment, the official notes that “We’re still not done in the House and weren’t expecting the next round in the Senate until later this week.”

Graham claims House managers still trying to investigate, says Pelosi should testify

How many witnesses will the Trump defense seek? 'Lots'

Frank Thorp Vproducer and off-air reporter

Bruce Castor, one of Trump's defense lawyers, said Saturday he plans to call "lots" of witnesses now that the Senate has voted to hear witnesses.

The Senate is still in uncharted waters after that vote, and the next steps are still being worked out. 

Each witness, or any agreement on witnesses, will need a simple majority to be approved. The process to depose witnesses could take days, if not weeks. 

Sens. Johnson and Romney get into heated exchange after vote on witnesses

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

During the Senate vote on witnesses, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., turned to Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and was visibly upset at him, even pointing at him once, according to reporters witnessing the exchange inside the chamber. 

Johnson and Romney were arguing on the floor with Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, in the middle of them. 

Both raised their voices and Johnson was heard telling Romney, "Blame you," but it's unclear what that was about. 

Johnson was asked about the exchange afterward and he said he doesn't discuss private conversations. When reporters said they heard the argument on the floor, Johnson said, "That’s grotesque you guys are recording us.”

Romney was among five Republicans who voted with Democrats to open debate on calling witnesses in the trial. 

After the vote, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and his staff, and Senate Minority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., huddled with Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, two other Republicans who joined Democrats in the vote.

Romney soon joined the group as well as Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who recently announced that he plans not to seek re-election.

Herrera Beutler hints at other witnesses: ‘Now would be the time’

The Senate has voted in favor of calling witnesses in Trump's impeachment trial, and House manager Raskin pushing to call Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., who put out a statement late Friday night saying House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy told her he called Trump during the Jan. 6 unrest to ask for help, but was rejected.

But the final line of her statement suggests that her testimony might in fact lead to others. 

“To the patriots who were standing next to the former president as these conversations were happening, or even to the former vice president: if you have something to add here, now would be the time,” Herrera Beutler wrote.

Confusion erupts in Senate chamber during vote

As senators cast their vote on whether to begin the process of calling witnesses, the chamber broke out in confused chatter.

Senators, many of whom had entered the chamber just moments earlier with the expectation that the trial would wrap up later this afternoon, looked around the room and to their neighbors with puzzled glances.

Even more confusion broke out after Sen. Lindsey Graham stood up in the well of the chamber and said, “I’d like to change my vote to AYE.”

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the judge presiding over the proceeding, called for order several times. 

After the vote was called, senators huddled together in small groups appearing to try to make sense of what had just happened. 

Sen. Tina Smith arrives at Senate impeachment trial in mismatched shoes

Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., posted on Twitter that she arrived at the Senate impeachment trial on Sunday in shoes that didn't match. 

"Think I had a lot on my mind this morning," Smith wrote.  

Senate votes to begin process for calling witnesses

The Senate voted 55 to 45 to begin the process of allowing witnesses to be considered in Trump's second impeachment trial, a surprise decision that will likely extend the proceedings after it appeared headed to a quick end on Sunday.

The Senate vote allows debate on which witnesses could be called and what rules might apply to the process.

“It is now to debate whether to have witnesses. And then, it’s my understanding, there will be a vote after the debate, up or down, about whether we do have witnesses,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., told reporters after the vote.

Lead impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., wants to hear from Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., who put out a statement late Friday night saying House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told her that he called Trump during the Jan. 6 unrest to ask for help, but was rejected.

Trump defense attorney Michael Van der Veen objected to the call for witnesses, which had not been expected as part of the trail, threatening to drag out the proceedings if any witnesses are called.

"If they want to have witnesses, I'm going to need at least 100 depositions, not just one," Van der Veen said.

All Democratic senators voted to move forward with the process of calling witnesses, joined by five Republicans: Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Read more here.

Senators burst out laughing when Trump lawyer says depositions should be done in his Philly office

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Senators in the chamber burst out laughing as Trump lawyer Michael van der Veen told them that depositions of witnesses should be done in his office in Philadelphia. 

Van der Veen also named his city with an accent, pronouncing it "Philly-delphia."

"These depositions should be done in person in my office in Philadelphia. That's where they should be done," he said on the floor, which then led to a number of senators laughing. 

At first, van der Veen began to chuckle, too, but then he said he didn't understand why people were laughing.

"There's nothing laughable here," he said.

Democrats say they want to subpoena Rep. Herrera Beutler about McCarthy, Trump exchange

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., opened Saturday morning by announcing that the House managers would like to subpoena Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., about her communications with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

Herrera Beutler released a statement Friday night confirming a conversation between Trump and McCarthy on Jan. 6 that contradicts the the defense argument that Trump was horrified by the attack and acted to quell it immediately. 

Raskin said they would like to subpoena the congresswoman and hold a deposition over Zoom for an hour or less as well as subpoena her contemporaneous notes. If other witnesses come forward, Raskin said they would seek the opportunity to take their depositions over Zoom as well and subpoena relevant documents. 

Trump lawyer Michael van der Veen responded by saying that the fact that they want to subpoena witnesses proves that the House didn't do enough to investigate the Capitol attack. 

McConnell will vote to acquit Trump

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told his Republican colleagues that he will vote to acquit former President Donald Trump in his impeachment trial, according to an email obtained by NBC News. 

McConnell had left open the possibility of voting to convict, but also twice voted that he thought the trial was unconstitutional because Trump has already left office. 

“I am persuaded that impeachments are a tool primarily of removal and we therefore lack jurisdiction,” McConnell wrote.

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What's on tap for Saturday

Frank Thorp Vproducer and off-air reporter

With the trial set to resume at 10 a.m. Saturday, a vote on whether to convict Trump on the article of impeachment could happen sooner rather than later.

Senators will then consider whether to subpoena witnesses and documents. Should any attempts be voted down, the managers and defense then split a four-hour block of time for their closing arguments.

Under that timeline, a conviction vote could come as early as Saturday afternoon. Already, both sides have presented in under their maximum allotted time.

But if a request for witnesses does come, it would prolong the trial considerably, as the process for how witnesses would be subpoenaed and deposed has not been agreed to yet.

Two Democratic senators are saying they want to hear from witnesses after news broke Thursday night about a Jan. 6 call between House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy and Trump that contradicts Trump's lawyers argument that he was immediately "horrified" by the attack and took swift action.

Trump said to be pleased with defense's presentation

Trump was pleased with his defense team’s short presentation on Friday and fully expects to be acquitted when a final vote is called, according to two sources familiar with the legal strategy.

The former president particularly enjoyed the video montages because they resembled his campaign ads at times, one source said.

All week long, Trump has been advised by close aides and allies not to weigh in on the trial proceedings to ensure his comments wouldn’t derail an all-but-assured outcome. The former president hasn’t spoken publicly or on-camera since leaving office last month.  


Two Senate Democrats call for witnesses

As new information about Trump's actions on Jan. 6 have come to light, Democratic Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Jeff Merkley of Oregon are voicing their support for hearing from witnesses in the impeachment trial. 

"I think that the questions that were raised yesterday focused very heavily on this matter," Whitehouse told NBC News on Saturday morning. "And it appears that the Trump counsel gave less than complete and candid answers. So it's not just a question of whether the managers want to pursue these questions. It's also a question of what the Trump counsel want to do to make sure that their presentation ends up having been completely candid."

The last-minute push for witnesses comes after a Friday night news report detailing a Jan. 6 call between House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy and Trump that contradicts Trump's lawyers argument that he was immediately "horrified" by the attack and took swift action.

The call for witnesses also follows comments made by Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., earlier in the week when he told reporters he had informed Trump of the danger Vice President Mike Pence was facing as the attack on the Capitol was underway. 

Still, two senators calling for witnesses does not make a majority. The House managers have until 10 a.m. to decide whether to request a vote to call witnesses. 

McCarthy and Trump got into expletive-filled argument during riot, sources say


Alex Moe

Hallie Jackson

Alex Moe, Hallie Jackson and Monica Alba

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and former President Donald Trump got into an expletive-laden argument on a phone call as the Jan. 6 Capitol riot was still unfolding, three sources briefed on the matter told NBC News on Friday.

As throngs of pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol during the certification of Joe Biden's Electoral College win, which resulted in the death of five people, McCarthy, R-Calif., phoned Trump to get him to control his supporters.

Sources described the call, which was placed by McCarthy, as “not cordial” and borderline incoherent, but it illustrates more than what was publicly available at the time about Trump's real-time reaction to the mob.

McCarthy called Trump, according to a source familiar with the matter. Another source told NBC News that McCarthy was shaken up during the call and was asking the president for help.

Trump told McCarthy on the call, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are," according to Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., and another Republican member familiar with the conversation.

At one point during the phone call, McCarthy told Trump: “Who the f--- do you think you are talking to?” according to a Republican lawmaker briefed on the conversation. 

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'Constitutional cancel culture': Key takeaways from day 4

Trump's lawyers put up a pugnacious if brief defense presentation in his impeachment trial Friday, saying his rally speech before the Capitol riot was "ordinary political rhetoric" and blasting the proceedings as a "sham" fueled by Democrats' "political hatred" for the ex-president.

Parts of the attorneys' presentation invoked the former president's language and arguments, with his lawyers charging that Trump's second impeachment trial is "constitutional cancel culture" while making numerous false claims.

During the question-and-answer session, however, the lawyers wouldn't say when Trump discovered the Capitol had been breached on Jan. 6 and what, if anything, he did to stop it.

Here are some key takeaways from the fourth day of the trial.

Trump's defense team confident ahead of closing arguments

Dartunorro Clark

Dartunorro Clark and Julie Tsirkin

Bruce Castor, one of Trump defense attorneys, said their arguments Friday at the impeachment trial "went exactly as planned." 

Castor said he plans for his closing argument on Saturday to be concise, and if the House managers plan to call witnesses the defense team would also call their own witnesses. 

The team was criticized by pundits on both sides for their free-wheeling presentation earlier this week, but they declined to tell reporters if the president was pleased with their presentation. 

"I think he would have let me know if he was displeased," Castor told reporters as he was leaving the Capitol. 

Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman gets standing ovation

Dartunorro Clark

Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman received a standing ovation Friday during a break of the impeachment trial after it was announced he would receive the Congressional Gold Medal.  

Congress' highest honor is being awarded to Goodman for his actions Jan. 6. He was seen on video during attack leading the mob away from the Senate chamber and to a different area as lawmakers escaped. 

Goodman was stoic in the back of the chamber during the ovation, and joined in for the round of applause for Capitol Police in general, according to a pool report.

He was swarmed by appreciative senators as they left, exchanging fist and elbow bumps.

Goodman exchanged salutes with Sens. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, who are former military members, and Ernst gave him a hug.

After that, the trial ended for the day.

'He delighted in this': Castro explains why Trump's tweet hours after riot shows his mindset

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., asked Friday what the relevance of one of Trump's tweets in the hours after the Capitol riot was to his guilt.

The tweet in question, posted just after 6 p.m. on the night of the riot, read: "These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long."

"Go home with love & in peace," he continued. "Remember this day forever!"

Castro answered the question, saying if the riot "wasn't what he wanted, why would he say remember this day forever?"

Trump would only say that, according to Castro, if he "thought it was something to praise."

"That statement was entirely consistent with everything he said leading up to the attack," Castro said, adding, "Senators, he reveled in this. He delighted in this."

Biden's post-impeachment trial plans


Carol E. LeeCarol E. Lee is the Washington managing editor.

As President Joe Biden eyes the end of the impeachment trial, his aides are drafting a statement for him to possibly deliver afterward and crafting plans for him to intensify his push for a $1.9 trillion Covid relief package. 

This weekend Biden is making his first trip to Camp David as president where he will spend Valentine’s Day with the first lady.

Three administration officials say if the trial concludes this weekend they expect Biden to release a written statement and then turn the page next week from a process that has threatened to slow momentum on his agenda. When White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the president’s plans for addressing the trial once it wraps up: “He did put out a statement at the conclusion of the House trial, so I’d certainly keep that option open.” 

Still with Congress in recess for all of next week, Biden will turn his attention to building public support for his package. On Tuesday he will travel to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for his first official trip where he will participate in a town hall. Officials say he will continue outreach throughout the week, through calls and more meetings with state and local leaders.