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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:

Live Blog

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'