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Live impeachment trial updates: Senate votes to acquit Trump

The outcome was effectively assured after senators on Friday voted against hearing witnesses, also largely on party lines.
Image: Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House voted to send impeachment articles against President Donald Trump to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell officially received the House managers on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House voted to send impeachment articles against President Donald Trump to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell officially received the House managers on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020.Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

Senators voted Wednesday to acquit President Donald Trump on both articles of impeachment.

Only one Republican broke rank to vote with Democrats: Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, who voted to convict Trump on abuse of power. The vote on the second article, obstruction of Congress, came down on party lines.

The outcome was effectively assured after senators on Friday voted against hearing witnesses, also largely on party lines.

Read the latest news and analysis below:

Barr says no investigations into 2020 candidates, campaigns without his approval

Attorney General William Barr notified federal agents and lawyers Wednesday that they cannot open investigations of presidential candidates, their campaigns, or advisers without his approval.

His directive follows a report by the Justice Department's inspector general that harshly criticized the FBI's investigation of the 2016 Trump campaign. It recommended an evaluation of the kind of sensitive matters that should require high-level approval, particularly those involving politics.

In his memo, Barr said the Justice Department must respond when faced with credible threats to campaigns. But he said that "the existence of a federal criminal or counter-intelligence investigation, if it becomes known to the public, may have unintended effects on our elections."

Under the new rules, no investigation can be opened of a declared candidate for president or vice president, their campaigns, or senior staff members without consulting with the appropriate U.S. attorney and getting approval of the attorney general. Investigations of candidates for U.S. Senate or House require notifying and consulting with an assistant attorney general, as do investigations of potentially illegal foreign campaign contributions.

Barr said the requirement would be in place through the 2020 election season. Afterward "the department will study its experiences and consider whether changes to the requirements are necessary."

Read more here.

Trump world wages war on Romney as he fears 'unimaginable' consequences for impeachment

Sen. Mitt Romney is bracing for "unimaginable" consequences as President Donald Trump and his allies seek revenge over the Utah Republican's impeachment vote.

Romney was the sole Republican on Wednesday to vote for Trump's conviction. His vote did little to change the all-but-guaranteed end to the president's impeachment trial — Trump's acquittal — but it dramatically shifted the surrounding narrative. What Trump had called an entirely "partisan" impeachment was no longer so.

As Democrats praised Romney for his act of "moral courage," Trump world began relentlessly attacking the Utah senator.

Trump told the audience at Thursday morning's National Prayer Breakfast that "I don't like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong." His comments were a thinly veiled shot at Romney, who cited his Mormon beliefs during his speech announcing his impeachment vote.

The president had on Wednesday tweeted an ad displaying Romney as a Democratic "secret asset" and tweeted early Thursday that if the "failed presidential candidate" had "devoted the same energy and anger to defeating a faltering Barack Obama as he sanctimoniously does to me, he could have won the election."

Read more here.

Schumer responds to Trump speech: 'Mistruths and profanity'

Schumer appeared in a press conference at his office in New York on Thursday and responded to a speech Trump made at the White House celebrating his impeachment acquittal.

Schumer, who Trump referred to as "Cryin' Chuck" during his speech, ripped the president's speech afterwards, calling it a "diatribe filled with mistruths and profanity." While Trump could have used his remarks to "show some contrition," Schumer said, he instead got on "his self-righteous high horse saying he did nothing wrong."

If that were true, the New York Democrat said, Trump would have welcomed witnesses and documents in the trial instead of blocking them. "His acquittal vote has no value," Schumer said, because a trial without witnesses or documents is "a sham."

"The bottom line is President Trump executed the largest cover-up since Watergate," Schumer said.

Trump celebrates acquittal, denounces 'vicious' political opponents in post-impeachment insult blitz

Thursday, calling his political opponents "vicious and mean" and heaping praise on his allies a day after the Senate voted to acquit him on two articles of impeachment.

In an address at the White House that he himself called "not a speech," Trump celebrated his acquittal and said "we went through hell unfairly."

He refused to concede any wrongdoing, again describing his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that launched a series of events leading to his impeachment as "perfect" and "a very good call."

"I know bad phone calls," Trump said, and this conversation was not one.

Read the story.

Pelosi unleashes on Trump: 'I shredded his state of his mind address'

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday that she felt “liberated” as she lashed out at President Donald Trump for the “falsehoods” she said he had spread in his State of the Union address and defended her decision to tear up a copy of his speech.

“I tore up a manifesto of mistruths,” Pelosi told reporters at her weekly news conference, referring to the moment on Tuesday when she ripped up a copy of Trump’s address to the nation once he finished speaking.

“It was necessary to get the attention of the American people to say, ‘This is not true, and this is how it affects you,’” she said. “And I don’t need any lessons from anybody — especially the president of the United States — about dignity.”

“He has shredded the truth in his speech, he shredded the Constitution in his conduct, I shredded his state of his mind address,” she added.

FIRST READ: Romney's impeachment vote didn't change the outcome but it did change the narrative

At the end of the day, the Senate didn’t need to censure President Trump over the Ukraine scandal — because Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, did it for the chamber on Wednesday afternoon.

What Trump did in his dealings with Ukraine "was a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security, and our fundamental values. Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine.”

While Romney was the only Republican senator who voted to convict President Trump in his impeachment trial, he wasn’t some random GOP senator – he was the party’s last presidential nominee. If Democrats were only going to get one GOP vote, he was one to get.

It helps explain why no Democratic senators — including Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema and Doug Jones — broke from their party. And it puts pressure on moderate and at-risk GOP senators – like Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Cory Gardner and Martha McSally – to explain why they didn’t see the same simple facts above that Romney saw.

Get the rest of First Read.

Yovanovitch: Despite 'shocking' treatment, 'I have no regrets'

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch said in an opinion piece published in The Washington Post on Thursday that while she found her treatment during the Ukraine saga "shocking," she doesn't regret her testimony in the impeachment inquiry that followed.

"We must not allow the United States to become a country where standing up to our government is a dangerous act," Yovanovitch wrote. "It has been shocking to experience the storm of criticism, lies and malicious conspiracies that have preceded and followed my public testimony, but I have no regrets. I did — we did — what our conscience called us to do. We did what the gift of U.S. citizenship requires us to do."

The last year, she wrote, has shown "we need to fight for our democracy."

"This administration, through acts of omission and commission, has undermined our democratic institutions, making the public question the truth and leaving public servants without the support and example of ethical behavior that they need to do their jobs and advance U.S. interests," Yovanovitch added.

"The next generation of diplomats is counting on something better."

‘Dishonest and corrupt’: Trump unloads at National Prayer Breakfast after acquittal

President Donald Trump blasted "dishonest and corrupt" people Thursday morning at the National Prayer Breakfast, bashing his impeachment at the nonpartisan event with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just steps away.

"As everybody knows, my family, our great country and your president have been put through a terrible ordeal by some very dishonest and corrupt people," Trump said. "They have done everything possible to destroy us and by so doing, very badly hurt our nation. They know what they are doing is wrong, but they put themselves far ahead of our great country."

"Weeks ago, and again yesterday, courageous Republican politicians and leaders had the wisdom, fortitude and strength to do what everyone knows was right," he continued.

Entering the stage, Trump lifted up a copies of USA Today and The Washington Post with headlines reading "ACQUITTED" and "Trump Acquitted" splashed across the front pages, displaying them to the crowd.

The moment comes one day after the Senate voted to acquit Trump on both impeachment charges he faced — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress

Read more here.

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

Donald Trump has survived impeachment, a federal investigation and three years of near-constant legal and in-the-streets resistance, raising the stakes of this year's election on what Democrats see as the last real check on the president's power.

With the Senate's votes Wednesday to acquit the president of impeachment charges brought against him by the Democratic House, Trump's opponents have shot all of the most powerful arrows in their quiver save one — the voters.

Both parties argue that the outcome of the monthslong impeachment saga will play to their advantage this fall.

Read the story.

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Trump allies revel in end to 'hoax' impeachment, Democrats say vote 'normalized lawlessness'

Although President Donald Trump's acquittal was all-but-certain with Republicans holding the Senate majority, supporters of the president continued to rally behind him on Wednesday after he was found not guilty on both articles of impeachment.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., posted a video on Twitter of him saying "Acquitted for life" while ripping the articles of impeachment, an obvious parody of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., tearing Trump's State of the Union address Tuesday night.

Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., one of the president's closest allies in the Senate, said Wednesday in a statement that now "the cloud over the presidency has been removed."

“This partisan-driven impeachment has done injury to the office of the presidency and was an injustice to President Trump," he said. “Unfortunately, I doubt my Democratic colleagues, who are being driven by unlimited hatred of President Trump, have the ability to move on."

Pelosi laced into Republicans in biting statement in which she said Republicans have "normalized lawlessness" and called McConnell "a rogue leader" and "cowardly" for abandoning his oath.

"Our Founders put safeguards in the Constitution to protect against a rogue president. They never imagined that they would at the same time have a rogue leader in the Senate who would cowardly abandon his duty to uphold the Constitution," she said. “The President will boast that he has been acquitted. There can be no acquittal without a trial, and there is no trial without witnesses, documents and evidence."

Read more here.

White House reacts to vote: 'Full vindication and exoneration'

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham released a statement celebrating "the full vindication and exoneration" of the president and attacking Democrats.

"The Senate voted to reject the baseless articles of impeachment, and only the President’s political opponents – all Democrats, and one failed Republican presidential candidate – voted for the manufactured impeachment articles," she said, adding that Trump "is pleased to put this latest chapter of shameful behavior by the Democrats in the past, and looks forward to continuing his work on behalf of the American people in 2020 and beyond."

Senate votes to acquit Trump on obstruction of Congress

The Senate on Wednesday voted along party lines to acquit President Donald Trump on obstruction of Congress, the second article of impeachment.

Romney, the lone Republican to join Democrats on abuse of power, voted to acquit Trump on obstruction of Congress. The final vote was 53-47 in favor of acquittal.

It was the third time in the nation’s history that a president has been impeached — and the third time that a president has been acquitted on all impeachment articles.

Senate acquits Trump on abuse of power

The Senate on Wednesday voted almost entirely along party lines — there was one Republican defection — to acquit President Donald Trump on abuse of power.

On the first of two articles of impeachment, Mitt Romney of Utah was the lone Republican to vote to convict Trump, along with all Democrats. The final vote was 52-48 in favor of acquittal.

McConnell: 'This partisan impeachment will end today'

Senate Majority Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., laced into his Democratic colleagues ahead of a likely acquittal vote, framing the impeachment inquiry as a "faction fever" in response to losing the 2016 election rather than a valid probe. 

"The United States Senate was made for moments like this. The framers predicted that factional fever might dominate House majorities from time to time," he said. "They knew the country would need a firewall to keep partisan flames from scorching our Republic. So they created the Senate." 

He added, "We will reject this incoherent case that comes nowhere near justifying the first presidential removal in history. This partisan impeachment will end today."

McConnell's speech was a summation of the Republican argument against impeachment since the House officially began impeachment hearings against Trump.  

Manchin, Sinema will vote to convict Trump

Two closely watched moderate Democrats, Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, announced on Wednesday that they will vote to convict Trump on both charges. 

“The facts are clear; security aid was withheld from Ukraine in an attempt to benefit the president’s political campaign," Sinema said in a statement. "While White House attorneys claim this behavior is not serious, it is dangerous to the fundamental principles of American democracy to use the power of the federal government for personal or political gain. Worse, they failed to assure the American people that this behavior will not continue and that future national security decisions will be made free from personal interests."

"Voting whether or not to remove a sitting President has been a truly difficult decision, and after listening to the arguments presented by both sides, I have reached my conclusion reluctantly," Manchin said in a statement. "For the reasons above I must vote yes on the articles of impeachment. I take no pleasure in these votes, and am saddened this is the legacy we leave our children and grandchildren. I have always wanted this President, and every President to succeed, but I deeply love our country and must do what I think is best for the nation."

Manchin's decision is particularly significant for the White House as it means that the White House hopes for a bipartisan acquittal have been dashed. With Romney's announcement earlier Wednesday, there will now be a bipartisan vote to convict on article 1, and a party-line vote on article 2.

The final vote on impeachment is expected shortly.

Schumer: Republicans carried out a 'great miscarriage of justice'

Schumer lamented that the impeachment trial was the "most rushed" in history, saying Republicans hurried to acquit the president rather than hear from additional witnesses and documents.

Likening the Senate trial to a "kangaroo court," Schumer said Trump's acquittal will be "meaningless."

"You cannot be on the side of this president and be on the side of truth," he said. "And if we are to survive as a nation, we must be on the side of truth." 

A look back on Romney and Trump's complicated relationship

Romney’s announcement is also notable because of his complicated relationship with the president. In 2012, Trump endorsed Romney — who became the party’s nominee — and donated to his presidential campaign. 

But as soon as Romney lost the election to President Barack Obama, Trump tweeted, "This was the Republicans election to win. @MittRomney is a good man but he just never connected with the people."

Several years later, when Trump ran for president in 2016, Romney spoke out against Trump in a speech and warned voters that the presidential candidate was "a phony, a fraud."

"His promises are as worthless as the degree from Trump University. He is playing the members of the American public for suckers. He gets a free ride to the White House, and all we get is a lousy hat," Romney said. "Donald Trump tells us that he is very, very smart. I'm afraid that when it comes to foreign policy, he is very, very not smart. If we Republicans choose Donald Trump as our nominee, the prospects for a safe and prosperous future are greatly diminished."

In response, Trump lashed out against the former nominee during his campaign, saying, "Mitt is a failed candidate," Trump said. "He was begging for my endorsement. I could have said, ‘Mitt, drop to your knees,’ he would have dropped to his knees."

Once Trump won the 2016 election, however, the two appeared to make amends during a dinner in New York as Romney was rumored to be in the running for Trump’s secretary of state. That obviously didn’t work out, and Romney continued to criticize Trump before he came to the Senate, saying that there may be an "unraveling of our national fabric" if Trump didn’t apologize publicly for how he handled the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. 

More recently, Trump called Romney a "pompous ass" on Twitter last October after Romney blasted Trump for pressuring Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. And just a few weeks later, Romney admitted that he was behind an anonymous Twitter account with the name "Pierre Delecto" that liked critical tweets about Trump. 

One source characterized the West Wing as "not f------ happy” on Wednesday, slamming Romney for looking to find the same spotlight he had in 2012, in their view. Still, one official noted that they’re not surprised, given Romney’s past statements and actions. 

Hallie Jackson contributed reporting.

GOP chair — and Romney niece — reacts to his vote

Romney's decision may ease political pressure on 2 moderate Democrats

Romney's surprising announcement may ease the political pressure on two closely watched moderate Democrats, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, to vote to convict Trump. Both have carved out a reputation in their states as centrists who are willing to break with their parties, but Romney may provide them with bipartisan cover to vote to remove the president.

Speculation about Manchin and Sinema grew after two moderate Republicans, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, announced they would vote to acquit the president, raising the prospect that the GOP would be unified behind Trump in the verdict.

Dem senator gets emotional, thanks Romney after speech

During Romney's powerful speech on the Senate floor, the chamber was empty except for three Democrats listening intently: Sens. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Brian Schatz of Hawaii.

Schatz wiped his eyes during Romney’s speech and, along with Leahy, followed Romney off the floor. Schatz told NBC News that he thanked Romney for his vote.

Schatz said he became emotional “because we all need to believe that this place can work, and this place can only work if individuals occasionally put country above party. And Mitt Romney just did that.”

He added, “I came to the floor because I was hoping. I didn’t talk to him about it, I just saw 2 o’clock and I cleared my schedule to come down.”

The only Republican in the chamber was Roger Wicker of Mississippi, who came in a few minutes late and stood by his desk just gazing at Romney. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., who was presiding over the Senate at the time, did not make eye contact with Romney once.

Schiff reacts: Romney displayed 'moral courage'

Full text: Romney's speech on why he'll vote to convict Trump of abuse of power

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, became the lone GOP senator to break with his party Wednesday, announcing in a speech on the Senate floor that he would vote to convict President Donald Trump of abuse of power — one of two articles of impeachment — in a vote expected later in the afternoon.

Read his full remarks as prepared for delivery, obtained by NBC News:

Kasie Hunt on why Romney's vote matters to Trump

Romney says he will vote to convict Trump for abuse of power

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, announced he will vote to convict President Donald Trump on abuse of power, one of the two articles of impeachment he faces.

Romney is the only Republican to announce a vote to convict the president. 

Romney said Trump was "guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust" and that "what he did was not perfect."

He called Trump's conduct a "flagrant assault on electoral rights, electoral security, and fundamental values" and "the most abusive and destructive violation of one's oath of office that I can imagine."

As he started to read his speech, Romney appeared to choke up with emotion.

"The president's insistence that [Joe and Hunter Biden] be investigated by the Ukranians is hard to explain other than as a political pursuit," Romney said. "There's no question in my mind that were their names not 'Biden,' the president would never have done what he did."

Romney said he knew he was certain to face backlash from the president and his supporters and said it was the most difficult decision he's faced. He added that the vote allows him to tell his children and family that he performed his duty "to the best of my ability."

“With my vote I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty,” Romney said. “What the president did was wrong. Grievously wrong.”

Kaine defends Pelosi, calls Trump a 'jackass'

Sen. Tim Kaine did not mince words during an appearance on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports" on Wednesday to talk about Trump's impeachment and the State of the Union address. 

The Virginia Democrat said that Trump cannot claim exoneration because his impeachment trial was a "sham" and called the president a "jackass" for not shaking hands with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after his address Tuesday night. 

"He’s going to be acquitted," Kaine said. "I don’t think it’s an exoneration because the Senate trial was such a sham."

He added, "The refusal to allow evidence will put an asterisk by this. So, yes, it is an acquittal, but if I were the president, I would want exoneration and I don’t think exoneration is what you get when you engineer a sham rather than a trial."

He also excoriated Trump for ignoring Pelosi's outstretched hand and in turn defended the speaker for ripping her copy of the president's speech at the end of his address. 

"I said, well, wait, so, he won't shake her hand and he gives a Medal of Freedom to somebody who's called her every name under the book for years," he said, referring to conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, who has consistently trafficked in sexism and racism.

"And he stands up there and lies about health care, but we're going talk about how she should respond? I mean, he can behave like a jackass, but we have to jump all over her back? I mean, I don't get the double standard."

Maloney on Collins acquittal vote: 'It's transparently nonsense'

Jones: Re-election battle 'never crossed my mind' in impeachment decision

Jones spoke to reporters following his announcement that he would vote to convict Trump.

When asked if he was worried about his re-election, Jones said, "No. It has never crossed my mind. Did ya’ll hear that speech? Did anybody hear that speech? It has never crossed my mind."

He added that he "did what I thought was the right thing to do. It had been coming together."

NBC News noted that Jeff Sessions, who once held Jones' seat and is now running to reclaim it, is already attacking Jones over his impeachment vote

"So?," he said.

Hoyer says Bolton could 'probably' give 'relevant testimony'

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said that impeachment will be “over today” and that he finds it “very regrettable what is about to happen” in terms of the Senate acquitting Trump without hearing from any witnesses or requesting documents.

Asked if the House will subpoena John Bolton to testify, he says the committees will make that decision if they will proceed on that but that “we think he probably has some relevant testimony to give.”

Pelosi explains why she ripped Trump's speech: 'A pack of lies'

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tore a copy of Trump's State of the Union speech in half Tuesday shortly after he concluded his address in the House chamber. She addressed this moment in a meeting with Democrats on Wednesday morning, telling them that she "tried to find one page I could spare that didn’t have a lie on it" but that "it was a pack of lies."

Multiple sources inside the room told NBC News that Pelosi called Trump's address a "disgrace" and accused him of turning the speech into a "reality show."

"Last night, we saw the President of the United States shred the truth right in front of us, tear up the truth," Pelosi said, according to one aide in the room. "We saw him lie about pre-existing conditions, that he’s the champion when he’s in court suing for it."

According to the aide, she said that "tried to find one page I could spare that didn’t have a lie on it."

"I didn’t go in there to tear up the speech, and I didn’t even care that he didn’t shake my hand, in fact, who cares?," she said, according to the aide. "But I’m a speed reader, so I read – you know – I went like this through the speech. So I knew that it was a pack of lies.  I knew it was a pack of lies, but I thought, ‘Well, let’s see how it goes.’ About a quarter through it I thought, 'You know – he’s selling a bill of goods like a snake oil salesman. We cannot let this – we cannot let this stand.'"

Fellow Democrats gave her a standing ovation for her remarks, the sources said.

Manchin says he 'agonized' over impeachment vote

Manchin said he has “agonized” over how he will vote later Wednesday on the articles of impeachment.

“I know my state and I know my people well,” Manchin said. “But I know this country well and I feel very strong about the decision I’ll make is going to be a very personal one.”

Manchin said he has not spoken to Trump nor has he asked any other moderate Democrats how they will vote. Asked if the Senate can work in a bipartisan way moving forward, Manchin said “we have to.”

“Last night did not give me the encouragement we need,” he continued. “We need to unite the country. The country needs to be united.”

Doug Jones, vulnerable Democrat, will vote to convict Trump

Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama, a Democrat who faces a tough re-election this year, said on Wednesday that he will vote to convict Trump. 

"After many sleepless nights, I have reluctantly concluded that the evidence is sufficient to convict the President for both abuse of power and obstruction of Congress," he said in a statement, adding that, "the gravity of this moment, the seriousness of the charges, and the implications for future presidencies and Congresses all contributed to the difficulty with which I have arrived at my decision."

FBI director asked about Biden investigation

Appearing at an oversight hearing Wednesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray was asked if the president or the Justice Department has sought in any way to retaliate for the impeachment process by asking the FBI to investigate Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, or any member of Congress.

Wray said the FBI will only open investigations based on the facts or the law. 

Nadler said, so no one asked you to do this, correct? Wray said, “No one has asked me to open an investigation” except based on the facts and the law.

Nadler says House 'likely' to subpoena Bolton

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, one of the House managers in the impeachment trial, spoke to reporters following a caucus meeting about his expectations for the upcoming Senate impeachment vote. 

Nadler said he thinks it's "likely" one of the House committees will subpoena former national security adviser John Bolton, one of the key witnesses Democrats were hoping to call. Bolton was an eyewitness to much of Trump's conduct on Ukraine and expressed concerns about Rudy Giuliani's involvement in Ukraine diplomacy.

Bolton had said he would testify if subpoenaed but the Senate on Friday killed an effort to hear from new witnesses.

Nadler didn’t give a timeframe for the potential subpoena.

Romney to make impeachment remarks at 2 p.m.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, one of the two Republicans who voted with Democrats to call witnesses in the impeachment trial, will make remarks on the Senate floor at 2:00 p.m. ET.                                         

Thune says some Democrats may vote to acquit Trump

Senate Majority Whip Thune, R-S.D., told NBC News that "I would not be surprised" if some Democrats voted to acquit Trump.

"I think there are a couple who may be available," he said. "I’ve had some conversations with them." 

In Senate trial, Trump may have gained power but lost political case

President Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial promises to leave him more powerful in Washington — and possibly more vulnerable to defeat on the campaign trail.

That's in part because a handful of pivotal Senate Republicans chose to criticize Trump's behavior in office while protecting him from both official sanction and the potential jeopardy of witnesses unraveling his impeachment defense under oath. As a result, Trump is on the verge of emerging from the trial with a tacit green light to defy Congress without fear of reprisal, and also safe in the knowledge that elected representatives will push only so far to find out whether he tells the truth to the public.

"It’s arguable that he’s the most politically powerful president in American history," presidential biographer Jon Meacham said on NBC News during a break in the trial Friday.

But that power, demonstrated with the Senate's 51-49 vote Friday against considering new evidence, combined with the mild rebukes from GOP senators to dilute the most compelling aspect of his political brand. It will be harder for Trump to cast himself as a victim of the system after allies in the Senate said he overstepped the bounds of his authority and then used their power to bail him out of trouble.

The more he looks like he's rigging the system, the less it looks rigged against him.

Read more here.

Trump's impeachment acquittal vote is all but assured. Nixon's resignation helps explain why.

When President Richard Nixon resigned in August 1974, his successor, Gerald Ford, told the nation that “our long national nightmare is over.” But with Alan Dershowitz’s arguments during President Donald Trump's impeachment trial last Wednesday that a president can do almost anything “that he believes will help him get elected — in the public interest,” it is clear that Nixon’s resignation left a serious gap in the precedents of impeachments.

Indeed, Dershowitz may have some of the last words on the matter. On Friday, the Senate voted to not allow new witnessesincluding John Bolton. It seems increasingly likely that the Senate will vote soon to acquit Trump. So what went wrong here, if you believed conviction was appropriate? The answer starts with the Nixon precedent, or better said, the lack of precedent.

The precedents set by each impeachment are important. And what happened to Nixon can help explain what happened, however different, to Trump.

Read more here.

Just catching up? Here's what you missed this week

Here's a brief look at what happened this week in Trump's impeachment trial: