The conclusion of Donald J. Trump’s impeachment trial was briefly questioned on Saturday after a demand for last-minute testimony threatened to extend proceedings over whether the president had incited the 6 January at the Capitol. But the House impeachment officials who raised the demand quickly dropped the issue, paving the way for closing arguments and a vote that allowed Mr. Trump to acquit the second acquittal of the crimes and serious crimes.
Here are some takeaways from day five of the trial.
The Senate acquits Trump of a charge of inciting the Capitol Riot.
In a 57 to 43 vote, the Senate acquitted Mr. Trump for the second time in 13 months. But it was the most bipartisan support for the conviction of one of four indictments in American history.
Democrats needed 17 Republicans to vote with them to condemn Mr. Trump on a single charge of “inciting insurgency” for his role in the assault on Capitol Hill. In the end, only seven broke ranks, but it was one more than expected, with North Carolina Senator Richard M. Burr crossing party lines.
Senators Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania also voted to convict Mr. Trump.
In closing arguments, Mr. Trump’s defense team denounced the deadly violence of January 6 and argued that the former president had been criticized by a biased news outlet and the victim of a long “vendetta” of from his political opponents.
Colorado Representative Joe Neguse, one of the impeachment officials, spoke of the prospect of more politically motivated attacks in the future if Mr. Trump were not held accountable.
“Senators, this cannot be the start. This cannot be the new normal, ”Neguse said on Saturday. “This must be the end. This decision is in your hands. “
But even as the trial spared Mr. Trump a conviction, criminal charges against his supporters for their role in the riot are escalating. Already, more than 200 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the attack, and investigators are just getting started.
Additional evidence produced in the coming months could provide a more accurate picture of Mr. Trump’s role on that day, leaving open the possibility that Saturday’s acquittal might not be the final say on his legacy.
Mr. Burr, a reliable Conservative vote from North Carolina, unexpectedly decided to condemn Mr. Trump on Saturday.
“The president promoted baseless conspiracy theories to cast doubt on the integrity of a free and fair election because he didn’t like the results,” Burr said in a statement on Saturday afternoon. . “The evidence is compelling that President Trump is guilty of inciting an insurgency against a branch of the same government and that the charge rises to the level of high felonies and misdemeanors.”
Mr. Burr, who retires at the end of his term after the 2022 election, has at times had a cold relationship with Mr. Trump. As head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Burr led a bipartisan investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
While Mr Burr’s vote was surprising, the vote of Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, was more puzzling.
Mr McConnell told his colleagues early on Saturday he would vote to acquit the former president, and he did. But after the impeachment trial ended, Mr McConnell spoke in the Senate and said: “There is no doubt – none – that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for bringing about the events of the day.
Mr McConnell has been an advocate for the former president and even supported Mr Trump’s refusal to concede the election for more than a month after Joseph R. Biden Jr. was declared the winner. As Mr. McConnell stood next door, Mr. Trump inflamed his supporters with his fraudulent allegations of voter fraud that led to the assault on Capitol Hill. Mr McConnell’s repudiation of Mr Trump was at times stronger than that of senators who voted to convict.
Mr McConnell said that while Mr Trump is responsible for the riot, the Senate should not try a former president. Impeachment, he said, is a “limited tool” intended to remove officials from office, not to prosecute them afterwards. At the start of the trial, the Senate voted that the trial was appropriate over the objections of most Republicans, including Mr. Burr and Mr. McConnell.
Despite the partisan divisions that defined the trial, Republican and Democratic senators agreed on Saturday that the proceedings should not be extended with testimony.
On Saturday morning, the Senate was ready to hear arguments from the prosecution and the defense, but plans for an early end were threatened by 11th hour evidence which prosecution officials say the House, was crucial to their case: details of a phone call with Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House minority leader, in which Mr. Trump allegedly sided with the rioters as his supporters took sides. assault the Capitol.
On Friday night, Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler from Washington, one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Trump, released a statement detailing a conversation she had with Mr. McCarthy in which he described his conversation with the president.
The prospect of allowing testimony angered Republicans.
“If you want a delay, it will be long with a lot of witnesses,” said Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said on twitter the Saturday.
“If they want to drag this out, we’re going to drag it out,” Republican Senate leadership Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa said during a recess. “They won’t get their names, they won’t get anything,” she said, referring to President Biden’s appointments to the top positions in his administration.
Democrats wanted a quick trial in part so they could focus on filling Mr. Biden’s cabinet and start working on his agenda.
After behind-the-scenes negotiations, both sides agreed to put Ms Herrera Beutler’s statement on the record.
Trump’s defense attorney was ready to leave Washington.
Michael T. van der Veen, one of Mr Trump’s attorneys, has expressed frustration at the possibility of delaying proceedings with testimony. A trial lawyer in Philadelphia, Mr. van der Veen has occasionally erupted due to the lack of judicial standards in the Senate chamber that are typical of courtrooms across the country.
“If they want to have witnesses, I’m going to need at least more than 100 depositions, not just one,” van der Veen said on Saturday, adding that raising witnesses at this stage of the trial was “inappropriate and inappropriate. “(The Senate faced a similar situation in Mr. Trump’s first impeachment trial.) But the courtroom standards he is accustomed to do not apply in impeachment proceedings, which are in effect. largely designed by the Senate.
“We should close this case today. We have each prepared our closing arguments, ”he said. At one point, he got so enraged that he had to step back “and cool the room down a bit”.
Mr van der Veen, who is part of a team of lawyers who took over the defense after Mr Trump separated from his first team, lamented that he had only had eight days to prepare.
“This is the most miserable experience I have had here in Washington, DC,” he said Friday.
Reporting was contributed by Alan rappeport Emily cochrane, Nicolas fandos, Maggie Haberman, Charlie savage, Luke broadwater and Glenn thrush.