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Trump's second impeachment trial is underway and the verdict is already in

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: Bill Cassidy
Sen. Bill Cassidy talks with reporters as he leaves the Capitol after the first day of former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial, on Feb. 9, 2021 in Washington.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — After yesterday’s harrowing 13-minute video presentation, after hearing about the precedent and the Founders’ intentions, and after a widely panned defense presentation, only six Republican senators voted that Donald Trump’s impeachment trial is constitutional.

Those six GOP senators (out of 50) joined the 10 House Republicans (out of 211) who voted to impeach the former president in January, as well as the 11 House Republicans (out of 211) who voted to strip Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s, R-Ga., committee assignments last week.

The unmistakable conclusion: Trump and Trumpism have won the GOP’s civil war — even after Trump’s defeat in November, after the party lost control of the U.S. Senate, and after what happened on Jan. 6.

Just look at the local reaction when Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., joined five other GOP senators in voting Tuesday that the impeachment trial is constitutional.

“The Republican Party of Louisiana is profoundly disappointed by Senator Bill Cassidy's vote on the constitutionality of the impeachment trial now underway against former President, now private citizen, Donald J. Trump,” the Louisiana GOP said in a statement. “We feel that an impeachment trial of a private citizen is not only an unconstitutional act, but also an attack on the very foundation of American democracy.”

A month ago, right before the House’s impeachment vote, we said Republicans were holding an honest debate about Trumpism and whether it should be the GOP’s driving force.

Well, we got our early answer. And as NBC’s Benjy Sarlin points out, we even got it from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“The likely interpretation of this move after McConnell’s inner circle made a huge show of hyping him up as a potential ‘yes’ on impeachment is that the civil war is over, Trump won, and leadership won’t stand in the way of his retaining influence over the party.”

And as Sarlin adds, it comes after McConnell himself delayed the trial from starting during Trump’s presidency, all underscoring how the Senate minority leader has tried to have it both ways (with Bloomberg reporting that his final vote is still up for grabs).

The verdict, however, is already in: Legally and PR-wise, yesterday was an awful day for Trump.

But politically, it was a success.

“Remember this day forever!”

Revisiting Trump’s tweets from Jan. 6: The impeachment managers’ video presentation compelled us to look back at the former president’s tweets on Jan. 6, which began — if you remember — with the increasing likelihood that Democrats were going to win both Georgia Senate races and control of the U.S. Senate.

Here’s a sample:

12:08 a.m. ET: Just happened to have found another 4000 ballots from Fulton County. Here we go!

12:43 a.m.: Get smart Republicans. FIGHT!

1:00 a.m.: If Vice President @Mike_Pence comes through for us, we will win the Presidency. Many States want to decertify the mistake they made in certifying incorrect & even fraudulent numbers in a process NOT approved by their State Legislatures (which it must be). Mike can send it back!

8:17 a.m.: States want to correct their votes, which they now know were based on irregularities and fraud, plus corrupt process never received legislative approval. All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!


2:24 p.m.: Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!

2:38 p.m.: Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!

3:13 p.m.: I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order — respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!

6:01 p.m.: 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. Remember this day forever!

Impeachment managers to make their case

After yesterday’s arguments and vote on the constitutionality of the impeachment trial, the U.S. Senate reconvenes at noon ET — as the Democratic House impeachment managers begin making their case against Donald Trump.

They get to use eight of their allotted 16 hours today, so the proceedings should last until around 9:00 p.m. ET to 10:00 p.m. ET, depending on the number of breaks, per NBC’s Capitol Hill team.

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

56 to 44: Yesterday’s vote to affirm that the Senate has jurisdiction to proceed with the trial of former president Donald Trump.

Six: The number of Republicans who broke with their party to affirm that the trial is constitutional.

27,296,424: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 82,855 more than yesterday morning.)

470,253: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 3,234 more than yesterday morning.)

79,179: The number of people currently hospitalized with coronavirus in the United States.

327.0 million: The number of coronavirus tests that have been administered in the United States so far, according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project.

39,676,551: Total vaccine doses administered.

9,000,450: People fully vaccinated.

78: The number of days left for Biden to reach his 100-day vaccination goal.

Merrick Garland finally gets a hearing

President Biden’s attorney general nominee, Merrick Garland, finally has a Senate confirmation hearing scheduled and a committee vote scheduled.

One month after Biden’s inauguration.

Garland will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 22 and Feb. 23. The committee will then vote on Garland’s nomination on March 1.

The announcement comes after a weeks-long battle between then-ranking member (now chairman) Dick Durbin and former committee chair Lindsey Graham. The committee’s new ranking member, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said this in a statement last night:

“Given the significance of this role, I’ve agreed to convening a hearing inside of the customary 28 days that the committee typically takes to conduct a pre-hearing review of the nominee’s paperwork. We also expect to accelerate the post-hearing committee markup. Given these accommodations, I expect a thorough review of Judge Garland’s qualifications as well as swift and transparent responses going forward.”

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

The impeachment trial offers Republicans a defining question: What’s the future of Trumpism?

Trump was not happy with his defense team yesterday.

Can Trump live full-time in Mar-a-Lago? It looks probably yes.

Biden’s team can access records of Trump’s calls with Vladimir Putin.

Neera Tanden spent much of her confirmation hearing yesterday apologizing for past tweets about Republicans.

WHO says it’s “extremely unlikely” that coronavirus was leaked from a Wuhan lab.

President Biden opposes the effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Here’s what you need to know about that attempted water-supply poisoning in Florida.

The next CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce will be the group’s first woman to hold the title.