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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

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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:

Live Blog

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.