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

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.