Senate votes to acquit former President Trump

Washington

(CBS) – The Senate voted 57-43 to acquit President Trump of inciting the January 6 riot in his second impeachment trial. While a majority — with seven Republicans joining the Democrats — voted to impeach him, Democrats failed to get the two-thirds majority needed to convict. 

Earlier Saturday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that a deal has been reached to skip witnesses in the impeachment trial of former President Trump, not long after a vote to call witnesses threw the Senate into chaos.A statement from Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler that led to the call for witnesses was read into the record rather than calling her to testify.

The 55-45 vote for witnesses included four Republicans who could vote to convict Mr. Trump: Senators Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney and Ben Sasse.And a fifth senator’s position came as a surprise. Senator Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally, changedhis vote from “nay” to “yea” because he wanted the defense to call witnesses.  

The former president is facing a charge of incitement of insurrection over the deadly assault by pro-Trump rioters on the U.S. Capitol on January 6. 

Democratic House impeachment manager Jamie Raskin had said Saturday that Herrera Beutler should be called to testify. 

Herrera Beutler came forward on Friday night and recalled that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told her about a phone call with Mr. Trump. According to Herrera Beutler, McCarthy told her that when he spoke to Mr. Trump that day and asked him to “publicly and forcefully” call off the Capitol assault, “the president initially repeated the falsehood that it was antifa that had breached the Capitol.”

“McCarthy refuted that and told the president that these were Trump supporters,” Beutler’s statement said. “That’s when, according to McCarthy, the president said: ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.'” 

A Senate staffer said Saturday morning that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in an email to GOP colleagues he’ll vote to acquit Mr. Trump, according to a Senate staffer who was read the email by a Republican senator.

McConnell cited constitutional grounds for his reasoning. McConnell voted that the trial was unconstitutional before it began.

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