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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."

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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

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'

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

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