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LIVE COVERAGE: Senate trial moves to closing arguments

The Senate on Saturday is headed toward closing arguments in the impeachment trial, with senators weighing whether former President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to move ahead with billion UAE weapons sale approved by Trump Fox News hires high-profile defense team in Dominion defamation lawsuit Associate indicted in Gaetz scandal cooperating with DOJ: report MORE is guilty of inciting a mob to attack the Capitol on Jan. 6.

The Senate was initially expected to give its verdict on Saturday, but then voted to allow for witnesses — a stunning move that raised the prospect of delayed proceedings. The chamber reversed again hours later.

A two-thirds vote in the Senate is necessary to convict Trump, which would require at least 17 GOP senators to vote to convict. 

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Democrats have argued the Senate should vote to convict Trump and then vote to prevent him from ever running for office again for his actions that they say led to the violent riot. Trump's defense argues his remarks were covered by the First Amendment and that he did not incite the mob.

The Hill will be providing updates all day.

 

Senate votes 57-43 for Trump acquittal

3:55 p.m.

Senate Republicans handed former President Trump his second impeachment acquittal on Saturday, clearing him of charges that he incited the mob that attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Senators voted 57-43 on whether to convict Trump of high crimes and misdemeanors for “willfully inciting violence against the Government of the United States.”

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Every Democrat voted to find him “guilty,” the question technically before the Senate, and they were joined by seven GOP senators — falling short of the necessary 67 votes, or two-thirds majority, needed for conviction.

Read Jordain Carney's full report here.

White House not involved in witness decision

3:46 p.m.
 
The White House did not have a hand in the drama that played out earlier Saturday when the Senate initially voted to clear the way for witnesses, only for Democrats to backtrack and cut a deal with former President Trump's defense team.
 
"The White House was not involved in discussions over calling witnesses or the deal that was made," a White House official said.
 
Senators appeared to be taken by surprise when Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden officials brace for worst despite vaccine data Political fireworks fuel DC statehood hearing Democrats vow to go 'bold' — with or without GOP MORE (D-Md.), the lead House impeachment manager, called to depose Rep. Jaime Herrera BeutlerJaime Lynn Herrera BeutlerLawmakers urge Capitol Police release IG report on riot House Republicans who backed Trump impeachment warn Democrats on Iowa election challenge Hillicon Valley: Democrats push Facebook to 'take responsibility' for placement of gun accessory ads | Lawmakers introduce bill allowing Americans to take foreign hackers to court | Malala Yousafzai signs content deal with Apple MORE (R-Wash.), who has hammered Trump for his actions after the Capitol attack on Jan. 6 and released a statement late Friday calling for those with information to speak out.
 
The announcement set off something of a scramble as the two sides mulled how to move forward. Trump's team threatened to call hundreds of witnesses, something they did not have the authority to do but reflected their willingness to drag out the trial for weeks if Democrats insisted on having additional testimony.

Instead, the Senate entered a statement Herrera Beutler released on Friday night into the trial record. The agreement allowed the trial to proceed to closing arguments and a final vote on Trump's guilt on Saturday.
 
Some Biden allies expressed relief that the Senate would not hear from witnesses, arguing an extended trial would hinder efforts to confirm the president's nominees and work on his legislative agenda.
 
—Brett Samuels

Trump lawyer: 'Lack of due process' is 'shocking' 

3:38 p.m.

Former President Trump’s legal team rested its case after less than an hour of closing arguments, saying the “lack of due process” afforded to him by Democrats was “shocking” and required an acquittal. 

Attorney Michael van der Veen reiterated the defense’s position that Trump never directly called for violence, pointing to the former president’s remarks that his supporters go to the Capitol to demonstrate “peacefully and patriotically.”

The attorney argued that a conviction would have a chilling effect on free speech.

Procedural due process entails notice given to the defense and an opportunity to be heard. Many legal scholars and experts agree that the former president was offered both in this impeachment proceeding. 

Van der Veen said Democrats used their own heated rhetoric encouraging the summer's social justice protests across the country but did not believe that they should be responsible for any of the destructive elements of those protests.

“House Democrats want two standards, one for themselves and one for their political opposition,” van der Veen said.

He also called the impeachment a “charade” with the sole purpose of eliminating a political rival from the scene. 

“This impeachment has been a complete charade from beginning to end,” he said. “The entire spectacle has been nothing but the unhinged pursuit of a longstanding political vendetta against Trump by the opposition party.”

Lead impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin has taken the podium to respond, but the impeachment vote should take place very shortly.

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—Jonathan Easley

Raskin says history will remember this impeachment vote as defense rests

2:57 p.m.

Lead House impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) concluded the prosecution’s case at the impeachment trial, stating that the senators would be remembered above all else by how they vote on Saturday.

"Whatever you came to Washington to do, to work on ... this is almost certainly how you’ll be remembered by history," Raskin said.

"That might not be fair, but none of us can escape the demands of history and destiny. ... Our reputations and legacy will be inextricably intertwined with what we do here," he added.

Trump’s defense team will now make its final arguments before the Senate votes.

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—Jonathan Easley

Impeachment manager: Trump 'wilfully betrayed us'

2:49 p.m.

House impeachment manager Rep. David CicillineDavid CicillineHouse lawmakers fired up for hearing with tech CEOs Democratic lawmakers propose B hike for State Greene calls Italian American House Democrat 'Rep. Mussolini' MORE (D-R.I.) in closing arguments Saturday said former President Trump “willfully betrayed us” in the lead-up to and during the deadly Jan. 6 mob attack at the Capitol. 

“There can be no doubt that the moment we most needed a president to preserve, protect and defend us, President Trump instead willfully betrayed us,” Cicilline told the Senate ahead of its vote on whether to convict the former president.

The Rhode Island congressman went on to say that Trump "violated his oath" and "left all of us and officers like Eugene Goodman to our own devices against an attack he had incited and he alone could stop," referring to the Capitol Police officer who was seen in a viral video leading members of the mob up a set of stairs and away from the Senate chamber. 

"That is why he must be convicted," Cicilline said. 

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The impeachment manager further argued that the case charging Trump with inciting violence “absolutely includes President Trump’s dereliction of duty on Jan. 6.” 

“His failure as inciter in chief to immediately quell or call off the mob, his failure as commander in chief to immediately do everything in his power to secure the Capitol, that is a further basis on which to convict, and there can be no doubt of that,” Cicilline added.

“The ongoing constitutional misconduct is like any continuing offense, and the proof of that is overwhelming,” he said.

—Celine Castronuovo

Senate strikes deal to bypass calling impeachment witnesses

1 p.m.

House impeachment managers, former President Trump's legal team and top senators struck a deal on Saturday that will let the Senate bypass calling witnesses.

The agreement comes after senators were caught flat-footed by a request from Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the lead House impeachment manager, to depose Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), who has hammered Trump for his actions after the Capitol attack on Jan. 6.

Instead, the Senate entered a statement Herrera Beutler released on Friday night into the trial record.

—Jordain Carney

Cruz says Democrats caved to 'leftist Twitter' by calling for witnesses

12:50 p.m.

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCruz raises .3 million in first quarter of 2021 Boehner says he voted for Trump, didn't push back on election claims because he's retired Boehner: Trump's claims of stolen election a 'sad moment in American history' MORE (R-Texas) condemned Democrats on Saturday, saying they caved to “leftist Twitter” by briefly calling for witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial.

“I think what happened was leftist Twitter got really upset” about how the impeachment trial was going and the House Managers called for witnesses, Cruz told reporters.

Cruz noted that witnesses were not in the plans for the trial and that calling witnesses could drag out the trial for months.

“If we go down the road of witnesses, this impeachment trial could last all of February, all of March, all of April,” Cruz said.

While Democrats pushed to call on Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) as a witness, some Republicans indicated they would be interested in hearing from her.

Impeachment managers ultimately moved to include a statement from her in the trial record.

—Lexi Lonas

Lawmakers, impeachment teams scramble to cut deal on witnesses

12:35 p.m.

Top senators, lawyers for former President Trump and the House impeachment managers are scrambling to try to cut a deal on witnesses after a surprise vote to pave the way for calling them in the trial.

The Senate voted 55-45 to allow for witnesses, a move that caught Trump World and senators off guard, with both expecting that the impeachment trial would wrap up on Saturday.

The vote threw the Senate into chaos, and now senators say there is a behind-the-scenes scramble to try to work out an agreement.

"Right now, they're just trying to work out some agreement. And if it doesn't work out, then we can have several amendments to the underlying resolution on other witnesses, so that's really the mechanics of what they're going through now. I suspect they'll work something out, but we won't know for probably an hour, hour and a half," Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisBiden's gun control push poses danger for midterms The Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings GOP senator recovering from surgery for prostate cancer MORE (R-N.C.) told reporters.

Sens. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezBottom line The Memo: Biden's five biggest foreign policy challenges Democrats gear up for major push to lower drug prices MORE (D-N.J.) and Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowFive things to watch on Biden infrastructure plan Senators introduce bipartisan bill to expand electric vehicle charging tax credit Bottom line MORE (Mich.), the No. 4 Democrat in the Senate, both confirmed that there were talks underway to try to get a deal.

"I know the attorneys are working together," Stabenow said. "At this point, they're trying to work the whole thing out."

Senators and leadership teams are trying to craft a resolution that would outline how the Senate proceeds on witnesses, including details on how many individuals can be called.

—Jordain Carney

Johnson confronts Romney after vote on witnesses

12:09 p.m.

Two Republican senators — Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonBiden picks vocal Trump critics to lead immigration agencies Trump's early endorsements reveal GOP rift The Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings MORE of Wisconsin and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyFamily policy that could appeal to the right and the left Press: Corporate America defies the GOP Romney on NRSC awarding Trump: Not 'my preference' MORE of Utah — got into a confrontation on the Senate floor Saturday after Romney voted with Democrats to allow witnesses in the impeachment trial of former President Trump.

Reporters sitting in the Senate gallery said they saw a “visibly upset” Johnson turn to Romney and point at him after the vote.

The two men then got into a back-and-forth, with Sen. Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanCongress must address the toxic exposure our veterans have endured GOP lawmakers ask Biden administration for guidance on reopening cruise industry Alaska's other GOP senator says he'll back Murkowski for reelection MORE (R-Alaska) trying to play referee. 

Voices were raised, and at one point Johnson was overheard saying he blamed Romney.  

Johnson is a staunch Trump ally who argued the defense “just eviscerated” the Democratic prosecutors and “blew their case out of the water.” Romney, a frequent Trump critic, voted to convict Trump on one count during last year’s impeachment trial. In the second trial, Romney voted both that the impeachment trial over whether Trump incited an insurrection on Jan. 6 was constitutional and for witnesses to be called.

Johnson on Saturday flashed his anger at reporters who later asked him about his exchange with Romney.  

“Those are private. Those are private conversations,” Johnson said.

"Reporters heard it,” a reporter replied just off the Senate chamber. “I just want to make sure we’re getting it right.”

"That’s grotesque you guys are recording us," the senator retorted.

“They were allowed to witness your proceedings” on the Senate floor, the reporter explained.

Television cameras controlled by the Senate apparently did not capture the exchange.

—Scott Wong

Senate votes to hear from witnesses

10:45 a.m.

The Senate voted Saturday to allow for witnesses in former President Trump's second impeachment trial, a stunning development that could extend the proceeding.

House Democrats prosecuting the case immediately pushed to hear from Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), who said she was told Trump initially expressed support for the mob at the Capitol.

"Needless to say, this is an additional, critical piece of corroborating evidence further confirming the charges before you as well as the president's willful dereliction of duty," lead impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) said.

Raskin said the deposition could happen remotely by Zoom and that Democrats would request "an hour or less" of her time.

The idea was immediately rejected by Michael van der Veen, one of Trump's defense attorneys, who said he'd need more than 100 new witnesses to investigate the circumstances in question thoroughly.

—Mike Lillis

Democrats call for Herrera Beutler to testify

10:25 a.m.

House Democrats prosecuting the impeachment of former President Trump called Saturday for a single witness to testify in the case: Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), who has hammered Trump for his actions after the Capitol attack on Jan. 6.

The stunning move came after the nine impeachment managers had spent the previous two days meticulously detailing their case against Trump and appeared ready to rest the case, setting up a potential Saturday vote on Trump's fate in the Senate.

But news reports emerging Friday night raised new questions about precisely when Trump knew the Capitol breach had occurred and whether he knew that his own vice president, Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PencePelosi says she would have put up a fight against Capitol mob: 'I'm a street fighter' Trump alumni launch America First Policy Institute Biden's policies are playing into Trump's hands MORE, was being targeted by the mob.

Herrera Beutler, one of 10 Republicans to vote for Trump's impeachment last month, has surfaced as a key figure in that saga. She said she was briefed on a call between Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyRepublicans need to stop Joe Biden's progressive assault on America Top academics slam Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act Boehner: 'There's a lot of leaders in the Republican Party' MORE (R-Calif.), who had urged the president to defuse the attack with public statements calling off the rioters.

—Mike Lillis

Democrats revive debate over calling witnesses

9:39 a.m.

Democrats are reviving a debate over whether to call witnesses for the impeachment trial against former President Trump, an issue that as of Friday many senators viewed as settled.

Some Democrats are endorsing the idea following new details about conversations Trump had with Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) during the Jan. 6 attack.

"The House Managers should ask for witnesses to be called, including anyone who communicated with Donald Trump or have direct knowledge of his actions and state of mind while he was in the White House after the Capitol was breached and while the attempted coup was ongoing," Sen. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyHillicon Valley: Supreme Court sides with Google in copyright fight against Oracle | Justices dismiss suit over Trump's blocking of critics on Twitter | Tim Cook hopes Parler will return to Apple Store Democrats press Facebook on plans for Instagram for kids Give Republicans the climate credit they deserve MORE (D-Mass.) tweeted on Saturday.

Markey was endorsing an idea that Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseLawmakers say fixing border crisis is Biden's job Democrats wrestle over tax hikes for infrastructure Democrats look to impose capital gains tax at death MORE (D-R.I.) tweeted on Friday night, saying that Trump's legal counsel had made misrepresentations that needed to be corrected. 

"One way to clear it up? Suspend trial to depose McCarthy and Tuberville under oath and get facts. Ask Secret Service to produce for review comms back to White House re VP Pence safety during siege. What did Trump know, and when did he know it?" Whitehouse tweeted. 

Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyFace mask PPE is everywhere now — including the ocean Green tech isn't all it's cracked up to be 2024 GOP White House hopefuls lead opposition to Biden Cabinet MORE (D-Ore.) also endorsed the idea, saying that Whitehouse "nailed it."

Whitehouse acknowledged on Saturday that it's up to House managers, adding that "it's not my call, so we'll see what Team Raskin decides to do."

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the lead House impeachment manager, has not said if they will try to call witnesses. While either Trump's team or the House managers could press for witnesses, the Senate has to formally vote to call them. 

—Jordain Carney