Updated Feb 12, 2021 - Politics & Policy

The daily highlights from Trump's 2nd Senate impeachment trial

Anti-Trump signs in front of Capitol
Trucks with LED screens displaying anti-Trump messages in front of the Capitol. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

President Trump was acquitted by the Senate on Feb. 13 in his second impeachment trial, in which he was faced a single charge from the House of Representatives for inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

The big picture: At five days, it was the fastest impeachment trial of a U.S. president and ended with the most bipartisan conviction vote in history. Still, the seven Republicans who joined all Democrats were not enough to reach the two-thirds majority necessary for conviction.

Daily recaps

Feb. 9, day 1: Senate votes trial is constitutional

  • Lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin cited prominent conservative legal scholars and the framers of the Constitution to argue that there is no "January exception" to convicting an ex-president who committed impeachable offenses while in office. He concluded the Democrats' arguments with an emotional appeal as he detailed his family's experience at the Capitol during the insurrection.
  • Trump lawyer Bruce Castor praised the Democrats' presentation before launching into a meandering rebuttal that reportedly infuriated Trump. Lawyer David Schoen's presentation was more focused and intense, accusing Democrats of denying Trump of his due process rights and seeking to block a political rival from running again for partisan purposes.
  • Just six Republicans voted that the trial was constitutional — one more than the last time the Senate vote on whether to dismiss the case. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) called Trump's legal team "disorganized" and said that "as an impartial juror, I’m going to vote for the side that did the good job."

Feb. 10, day 2: House managers air unseen riot footage

  • One by one, managers showed speeches, tweets and interviews detailing how Trump laid the groundwork for his supporters to believe "the big lie" — that the election would be stolen — for months leading up to the attack.
  • Shocking new videos showed just how close rioters came to lawmakers, and how many of them explicitly said they were at the Capitol because Trump told them to be there. Footage showed officer Eugene Goodman, who on Jan. 6 successfully steered a mob away from lawmakers, warning Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) to flee the area moments before rioters appeared.

Feb. 11, day 3: House managers rest case, urging Senate to convict

  • House managers played video clips from the perspective of "Stop the Steal" rally-goers and rioters — as well as online chatter from extremists — describing their belief that the president "invited" and encouraged them to invade the Capitol.
  • They closed by warning that Trump could incite violence again if he is not barred from holding office: "Is there any political leader in this room who believes that if he is ever allowed by the Senate to get back into the Oval Office, Donald Trump would stop inciting violence to get his way? Would you bet the lives of more police officers on that?" Raskin asked.

Feb. 12, day 4: Trump's team concludes speedy defense

  • Trump's lawyers delivered a swift defense in which they called the House charge that the former president incited the Jan. 6 insurrection a "preposterous and monstrous lie." In their presentation, the defense team asserted that the trial itself is unconstitutional; there was no due process; convicting Trump violates his First Amendment rights; and that impeachment fails to unify the country.
  • During the Q&A portion of the trial, Trump's defense team could not answer a question on when he knew about the breach of the Capitol, arguing that it was incumbent on House investigators to figure that out before "rushing" to impeach.

Feb 13, day 5: Senate votes to acquit Trump

  • House impeachment manager Jamie Raskin unexpectedly announced that his team would seek testimony from Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) to talk about her knowledge of a conversation between House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Trump during the Capitol attack. After several hours of discussion, the Democrats agreed to accept a statement into the record instead.
  • The Senate failed to reach the two-thirds majority necessary to convict Trump, with a final vote of 57-43 cementing his acquittal. Seven Senate Republicans — Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse and Pat Toomey — voted ‘guilty,’ the most bipartisan margin in favor of conviction in history.

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