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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

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: