The United States Senate voted on Saturday to acquit Donald J. Trump in his second impeachment trial, as Republicans in a Senate still bruised from the most violent attack on the Capitol in two centuries banded together to reject the charge that he incited the Jan. 6 attack.
Voting 57-43, the Senate fell 10 votes short of the two-thirds necessary for conviction. Seven Republicans voted to find the former president guilty of “incitement of insurrection,” with all 50 Democrats, the most bipartisan support for conviction in any of the four presidential impeachments in U.S. history.
That outcome reflected the widespread outrage about Mr. Trump’s conduct among senators who experienced the violence of the attack firsthand, fleeing for safety as marauders overwhelmed the Capitol Police and swarmed the Capitol during the attack. It came after Democrats built a case that the former president had undertaken a monthslong effort to overturn the election, and then provoked the assault on the Capitol in a last-ditch attempt to cling to power.
“If that is not ground for conviction, if that is not a high crime and misdemeanor against the Republic and the United States of America, then nothing is,” Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and the lead manager, pleaded with senators before the vote. “President Trump must be convicted, for the safety and democracy of our people.”
Minutes after the verdict was announced, Mr. Trump sent out a statement thanking his legal team and decrying, as he did for most of his presidency, the “witch hunt” he says is being waged upon him by his enemies.
“It is a sad commentary on our times that one political party in America is given a free pass to denigrate the rule of law, defame law enforcement, cheer mobs, excuse rioters, and transform justice into a tool of political vengeance, and persecute, blacklist, cancel and suppress all people and viewpoints with whom or which they disagree,” he wrote, echoing the final arguments of his lawyers in the Senate on Saturday.
“I always have, and always will, be a champion for the unwavering rule of law, the heroes of law enforcement, and the right of Americans to peacefully and honorably debate the issues of the day without malice and without hate.”
He also suggested that the Democrats’ attempt to end his political career had also failed, telling his supporters, “our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun.”
The verdict brought an abrupt end to the fourth presidential impeachment trial in American history, and the only one in which the accused had left office before being tried. The senators were voting on a question with no precedent in American history: whether to convict a former president accused of seeking to violently thwart the peaceful transfer of power — and putting at risk the lives of hundreds of lawmakers and his own vice president.
The trial ended after just five days, partly because Republicans and Democrats alike had little appetite for a prolonged proceeding, and partly because Mr. Trump’s allies had made clear before it even began they were not prepared to hold him responsible.
So ends a 39-day stretch unlike any in the nation’s history. Dispensing with the customary investigations and hearings, the House moved directly to impeach Mr. Trump seven days after the attack, citing an urgent need to remove him from office. Ten Republicans joined Democrats to adopt the charge, more than had ever supported the impeachment of a president of their party.
In a surprise twist on Saturday, the House managers made an abrupt demand to hear from witnesses who could testify to what Mr. Trump was doing and saying during the rampage. The Senate voted to allow it, but the prospect threatened to prolong the trial by days or weeks without changing the outcome, and in a head-spinning move, the prosecutors quickly dropped it.
After a flurry of closed-door haggling with Republicans, they agreed with Mr. Trump’s lawyers to admit as evidence a written statement by a Republican congresswoman, Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, who has said she was told that the former president sided with the mob as rioters were attacking the Capitol.
Minutes after voting to acquit Donald J. Trump on Saturday, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the minority leader, castigated the former president for what he called a “disgraceful dereliction of duty,” pinning responsibility for last month’s Capitol assault directly on Mr. Trump.
In a speech more blistering as many of those in favor of conviction, Mr. McConnell said the former president had shouted “wild myths” about election fraud into the “the largest megaphone on planet earth” with foreseeable consequences. Congress and the American public paid the price, he added.
It was a stunning statement from a leader who has defended Senate prerogatives zealously, in which he effectively argued that Mr. Trump was guilty as charged, but the Senate could do nothing about it.
“There is no question — none — that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day,” he said. “The people that stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president. And having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories and reckless hyperbole.”
But even as he condemned Mr. Trump, Mr. McConnell said his reading of the Constitution was that the Senate should not try a former president. He called impeachment a “narrow tool” meant to remove an official from office, not pursue them afterward.
Democrats were furious, pointing out that their vote to impeach came while Mr. Trump remained in office and that it was Mr. McConnell who refused to call the Senate back into session to start the trial before he left office. But Mr. McConnell that even if he had, there would not have been time to reach a verdict in the final days of Mr. Trump’s term.
The harshly worded speech appeared to be something of a compromise for Mr. McConnell, the most powerful Republican in Washington, who has come to despise the 45th president he aided and accommodated for four years and now regards Mr. Trump as a danger to his party.
Mr. McConnell had considered voting to convict the former president as a means of purging him from the party, but allies said he concluded he could not practically, as leader, side with a minority of his colleagues rather than the overwhelming number who said the trial was invalid and voted to acquit. Instead, he used every ounce of his rhetorical strength to try to damage Mr. Trump’s credibility with his own party.
When the Capitol attack was underway, Mr. McConnell said, Mr. Trump abdicated his responsibility as commander in chief, and afterward, he refused to drop his baseless election lies.
“Whatever reaction he says he meant to produce by the afternoon, we know he was watching the same live television as the rest of us,” Mr. McConnell said. “A mob was assaulting a Capitol in his name. These criminals were carrying his banners, hanging his flags and screaming their loyalty to him.”
He added: “He did not do his job. He did not take steps so federal law could be faithfully executed and order restored. No, instead, according to public reports, he watched television happily — happily — as the chaos unfolded.”
Mr. McConnell also rejected one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers’ most explicit defenses: that his words had been no different from those of any other politician advocating a cause.
“That is different from what we saw,” he said.
Notably, he argued that it was up to the criminal justice system to hold former presidents to account for their conduct in office. Mr. Trump, he said, “didn’t get away with anything yet.”
Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times
Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times
Doug Mills/The New York Times
Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times
Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times
Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times
Erin Schaff/The New York Times
Seven Republican senators voted on Saturday to convict former President Donald J. Trump in the most bipartisan vote for a presidential impeachment conviction in United States history. The margin still fell 10 votes short of the two-thirds needed to find him guilty.
Who are the seven senators? Only one — Lisa Murkowski — is up for re-election next year, and she has survived attacks from the right before. Two are retiring, and three won new terms in November, so they will not face voters until 2026.
Richard M. Burr of North Carolina
Mr. Burr, 65, a senator since 2005, is not seeking re-election in 2022. Despite holding Mr. Trump immediately responsible for the Capitol riot, he had voted against moving forward with the impeachment trial, and his decision to convict came as a surprise.
“As I said on Jan. 6, the president bears responsibility for these tragic events,” Mr. Burr said in a statement on Saturday. “The evidence is compelling that President Trump is guilty of inciting an insurrection against a coequal branch of government and that the charge rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors. Therefore, I have voted to convict.”
Bill Cassidy of Louisiana
Mr. Cassidy, 63, a senator since 2015, was just re-elected. Weeks ago, he voted against moving forward with the trial, but said he was persuaded by the House impeachment managers.
“Our Constitution and our country is more important than any one person,” Mr. Cassidy said. “I voted to convict President Trump because he is guilty.”
Susan Collins of Maine
Ms. Collins, 68, a senator since 1997, was just re-elected to a fifth term. She has long been critical of Mr. Trump’s actions, extending to the Capitol riot.
“That attack was not a spontaneous outbreak of violence,” Ms. Collins said on the Senate floor after the vote. “Rather it was the culmination of a steady stream of provocations by President Trump that were aimed at overturning the results of the presidential election.”
Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
Ms. Murkowski, 63, a senator since 2002, is up for re-election in 2022. She has appeal for both Democrats and independents and won a write-in campaign in 2010 after losing the Republican primary. She has harshly criticized Mr. Trump’s actions before and during the Capitol rampage, calling his conduct “unlawful.”
“It’s not about me and my life and my job,” Ms. Murkowski told a Politico reporter who asked about the political risk she took with her vote. “This is really about what we stand for. If I can’t say what I believe that our president should stand for, then why should I ask Alaskans to stand with me?”
Mitt Romney of Utah
Mr. Romney, 73, a senator since 2019, is the only Republican to have voted to convict Mr. Trump in his first impeachment trial. A former presidential candidate, he made clear after the Capitol attack that he held Mr. Trump responsible.
“President Trump attempted to corrupt the election by pressuring the secretary of state of Georgia to falsify the election results in his state,” Mr. Romney said in a statement on Saturday. “President Trump incited the insurrection against Congress by using the power of his office to summon his supporters to Washington on Jan. 6 and urging them to march on the Capitol during the counting of electoral votes. He did this despite the obvious and well-known threats of violence that day. President Trump also violated his oath of office by failing to protect the Capitol, the vice president and others in the Capitol. Each and every one of these conclusions compels me to support conviction.”
Ben Sasse of Nebraska
Mr. Sasse, 48, a senator since 2015, was just re-elected. He has been a frequent critic of Mr. Trump and had signaled that he was open to convicting the former president.
“On election night 2014, I promised Nebraskans I’d always vote my conscience even if it was against the partisan stream,” Mr. Sasse said in a statement. “In my first speech here in the Senate in November 2015, I promised to speak out when a president — even of my own party — exceeds his or her powers. I cannot go back on my word, and Congress cannot lower our standards on such a grave matter, simply because it is politically convenient.”
Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania
Mr. Toomey, 59, a senator since 2011, is not seeking re-election in 2022. He had denounced Mr. Trump’s conduct; in a statement on Saturday, he said had decided during the trial that the former president deserved to be found guilty.
“I listened to the arguments on both sides,” Mr. Toomey said, “and I thought the arguments in favor of conviction were much stronger.”
After days of calling out former President Donald J. Trump actions, House Democrats summed up their case by accusing him of impeachable inaction — his unwillingness to stop the mob that killed, maimed and clawed at the heart of American democracy in his name.
“Think for a moment, just a moment, of the lives lost that day — of the more than 140 wounded,” said Representative Joe Neguse, a Democrat from Colorado, one of the House impeachment managers. “Ask yourself if, as soon as this had started, President Trump had simply gone onto TV, just logged onto Twitter, and said stop the attack. How many lives would we have saved?”
The Democrats’ tone throughout the accelerated trial, soft-spoken and emotional, represented a striking contrast with the angry, high-volume riposte of Mr. Trump’s defense team whose fiery final argument was inspired, and perhaps instigated by, the former president.
“Senators, do not let House Democrats take this maniacal crusade any further,” said Michael T. van der Veen, who emerged as the most outspoken member of Mr. Trump’s legal team.
“You do not have to indulge the impeachment lust, the dishonesty, and the hypocrisy,” added Mr. van der Veen, whose earlier statements prompted Senator Pat Leahy of Vermont, who presided over the trial, to call for civility on both sides. “It is time to bring this unconstitutional political theater to an end.”
Even if acquittal seemed preordained throughout the long closing arguments on Saturday, exoneration did not; Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, called his not-guilty vote “a close call,” and many Republicans, while ultimately siding with Mr. Trump’s arguments, seemed impressed by the evidence and empathy of the Democratic impeachment managers.
Representative Jamie Raskin, who was grieving the recent suicide of his son Tommy, 25, at the time of attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, offered sympathy to the families of those hurt or killed as a result of the attack, a toll that includes the suicides of two police officers in the aftermath.
“We must recognize and exercise these crimes against our nation and then we must take care of our people and our children, their hearts and their minds,” he said. “As Tommy Raskin used to say, it’s hard to be human. Many of the Capitol and Metropolitan Police officers and guardsmen and women who were beaten up by the mob also have kids.”
The Democrats seemed to have a far more sophisticated understanding of the senatorial mindset than Mr. Trump’s team.
In his summation, Mr. van der Veen implored senators, a group that prides itself on being steeped in history and conversant with the nation’s great documents, “to read the Constitution.”
Mr. Neguse offered a barbed lecture of his own. But his was hidden in a reference to Mr. McConnell’s hero, a fellow Kentuckian, Representative John Sherman Cooper, who braved a political backlash to support civil rights legislation in the 1960s.
“We’ve always risen to the occasion when it mattered the most, not by ignoring injustice or cowering to bullies and threats, but by doing the right thing,” he said of Mr. Cooper.
President Biden escaped the debate over the fate of his predecessor by taking his first trip to Camp David this weekend — and he plans a quick pivot next week to return the country’s focus to fighting the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout, aides said.
Mr. Biden has mostly distanced himself from the particulars of the trial, with a notable exception on Thursday, when he declared that a graphic video of the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol that was shown during the trial might have changed “some minds.”
The approach was in keeping with how Mr. Biden has often handled himself, first as a candidate and now as president, content to work quietly in the lee of former President Donald J. Trump’s political storms.
His expectation that the impeachment trial would end this weekend was briefly scrambled Saturday morning when the Senate approved a debate over calling witnesses, which might have added days to the trial.
But Democrats eventually abandoned that plan, and a people close to Mr. Biden said the White House had nothing to do with that decision, although it was not an unwelcome development.
The Biden administration is still hoping the next week will be largely Trump-free.
White House officials did not comment on Saturday’s roller-coaster developments, telling reporters at the presidential retreat that Mr. Biden’s plans for the day included a meeting with his national security team.
The White House has taken advantage of the attention being paid to Mr. Trump’s trial, dealing with potential embarrassments that would have otherwise gotten more media attention, including sharp questioning during confirmation hearings for Mr. Biden’s pick to head the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, over her history of leveling personal attacks on social media.
On Friday evening, Mr. Biden took the briefest of Air Force One flights to Hagerstown, Md. (25 minutes and 57 seconds, according to the press pool accompanying him); loped down the stairs in a mask and leather bomber jacket; then took a 40-minute motorcade drive through the darkened byways of small-town Maryland to a presidential refuge seldom used by Mr. Trump.
He had no public events scheduled for the weekend.
The pure savagery of the mob that rampaged through the Capitol that day was breathtaking. One police officer lost an eye, another the tip of his finger. Still another was shocked so many times with a Taser gun that he had a heart attack.
They suffered cracked ribs and multiple concussions. At least 81 members of the Capitol force and 65 members of the Metropolitan Police Department were injured, not even counting the officer killed that day or two others who later died by suicide. Some officers described it as worse than when they served in combat in Iraq.
And through it all, President Donald J. Trump served as the inspiration if not the catalyst. Even as he addressed a rally beforehand, supporters could be heard on the video responding to him by shouting, “Take the Capitol!” Then they talked about calling the president at the White House to report on what they had done.
If nothing else, the Senate impeachment trial has served at least one purpose: It stitched together the most comprehensive and chilling account to date of last month’s deadly assault on the Capitol.
Yet for all the heart-pounding narrative of that day and the weeks leading up to it presented on the Senate floor, what was also striking after it was all over was how many questions remained unanswered on issues like the financing and leadership of the mob, the extent of the coordination with extremist groups, the breakdown in security and the failure in various quarters of the government to heed intelligence warnings of pending violence.
And then, most especially, what the president was doing in the hours that the Capitol was being ransacked.
The Trump camp has never provided a definitive and official account of the former president’s knowledge or actions during the attack. But advisers speaking on the condition of anonymity have told reporters that he was initially pleased, not disturbed, that his supporters had disrupted the election count and that he never reached out to Vice President Mike Pence to check on his safety even after Mr. Pence was evacuated from the Senate chamber.
What really struck some senators, particularly the handful of Republicans open to conviction, is what Mr. Trump did next — or what he did not do. Despite pleas from Mr. McCarthy, other allies, key aides and his daughter Ivanka Trump, the president was still more focused on pressing his effort to block the election than coming to the aid of his vice president and Congress.
Matthew Rosenberg, Mark Mazzetti and Michael S. Schmidt contributed reporting.
The Senate’s acquittal of former President Donald J. Trump at his second impeachment trial will hardly be the last or decisive word on his level of culpability in the assault on the Capitol last month.
While the Justice Department officials examining the rash of crimes committed during the riot have signaled that they do not plan to make Mr. Trump a focus of the investigation, the volumes of evidence they are compiling may eventually give a clearer — and possibly more damning — picture of his role in the attack.
Case files in the investigation have offered signs that many of the rioters believed, that they were answering Mr. Trump’s call on Jan. 6. The inquiry has also offered evidence that some pro-Trump extremist groups, concerned about fraud in the election, may have conspired together to plan the insurrection.
“If this was a conspiracy, Trump was the leader,” said Jonathan Zucker, the lawyer for Dominic Pezzola, a member of the far-right Proud Boys group who has been charged with obstructing police officers guarding the Capitol.
As the sprawling investigation goes on — quite likely for months or even years — and newly unearthed evidence brings continual reminders of the riot, Mr. Trump may suffer further harm to his battered reputation, complicating any post-presidential ventures. Already, about a dozen suspects have explicitly blamed him for their part in the rampage — a number that will most likely rise as more arrests are made and legal strategies develop.
Some defendants, court papers show, said they went to Washington because Mr. Trump encouraged them to do so, while others said they stormed the Capitol largely because of Mr. Trump’s appeal to “fight like hell” to overturn the election. One man — charged with assaulting the police — accused the former president of being his accomplice: In recent court papers, he described Mr. Trump as “a de facto unindicted co-conspirator” in his case.
Legal scholars have questioned the viability of faulting Mr. Trump in cases connected to the Capitol attack, noting that defendants would have to prove not only that they believed he authorized their actions, but also that such a belief was reasonable.
The efforts to blame Mr. Trump are, of course, a calculated legal defense and may not work to exonerate them of crimes committed at the Capitol, even if they were inspired by Mr. Trump’s words.
The back-and-forth in the Senate on Saturday over calling witnesses in the impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump put a spotlight on the former president’s calls to Republican allies as the rampage unfolded, leaving his vice president, Mike Pence, scrambling for safety.
Republicans and Democrats have sparred over the details. Here’s what we know so far:
Mr. Trump sided with protesters in a call to Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, according to a Republican congresswoman.
Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, Republican of Washington, confirmed late Friday evening that Mr. McCarthy told her that Mr. Trump said in a phone call during the rampage that the rioters were “more upset” about the election than Mr. McCarthy was.
Why it matters: If her account, which the prosecutors and defense team agreed on Saturday to admit as evidence, is accurate, the call would disprove the core of Mr. Trump’s defense — that he pleaded for “peaceful” protest. It would also suggest that Mr. Trump’s failure to stop the violence was a calculated choice, and a result of his belief that the rioters were aiding in his effort to overturn the election.
Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama said he told Mr. Trump that Mr. Pence was in danger.
Mr. Tuberville, a staunch Trump supporter elected to represent Alabama in 2020, told reporters last week that Mr. Trump called him at the height of the riot, and that he informed the president that the Secret Service had just “taken the vice president out” of the Capitol to save him from the mob.
When asked how Mr. Trump reacted to the news, the former Auburn football coach told reporters on Friday, “I don’t remember.”
Why it matters: Mr. Trump’s defense team has claimed the president did not know Mr. Pence was in danger, without specifying a timeline of when he found out. On Friday, one of Mr. Trump lawyers, Michael T. van der Veen, called the account of Mr. Tuberville — one of Mr. Trump’s most dogged defenders — “hearsay,” likening it to a rumor overheard “the night before at a bar somewhere.”
Senator Mike Lee of Utah turned over evidence establishing the exact time of Mr. Trump’s call to Mr. Tuberville at 2:26 p.m.
Mr. Trump mistakenly called Mr. Lee, a Trump ally from Utah, when he was trying to track down Mr. Tuberville. On Saturday, Mr. Lee gave lawyers on both sides a copy of a log of his cellphone calls — and forcefully repeated his claim that Mr. Trump was calling Mr. Tuberville and not him.
Why it matters: Two minutes before the call, at 2:24 p.m., Mr. Trump attacked Mr. Pence on Twitter for “not having “the courage to do what should have been done.”
At 2:39 p.m. — about 10 minutes after Mr. Tuberville told him of the dire plight of Mr. Pence and lawmakers — Mr. Trump finally asked his followers to behave in a “peaceful” way.
He did not explicitly ask them to leave the building until he posted a video doing so at 4:17 p.m.
Fani T. Willis, the top prosecutor in Fulton County, Ga., is targeting former President Donald J. Trump and a range of his allies in her newly announced investigation into election interference.
Ms. Willis and her office have indicated that the investigation, which she revealed this week, will include Senator Lindsey Graham’s November phone call to Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state, about mail-in ballots; the abrupt removal last month of Byung J. Pak, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, who earned Mr. Trump’s enmity for not advancing his debunked assertions about election fraud; and the false claims that Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, made before state legislative committees.
“An investigation is like an onion,” Ms. Willis told The New York Times in an interview. “You never know. You pull something back, and then you find something else.”
She added, “Anything that is relevant to attempts to interfere with the Georgia election will be subject to review.”
Kevin Bishop, a spokesman for Mr. Graham, said that he had not had any contact with Ms. Willis’s office. Mr. Giuliani did not respond to a request for comment.
Jason Miller, a spokesman for Mr. Trump, has called the Georgia investigation “the Democrats’ latest attempt to score political points.”
The activity of Mr. Trump is central to the Georgia inquiry, particularly his call last month to Mr. Raffensperger, during which Mr. Trump asked him to “find” votes to erase the former president’s loss in the state.
Ms. Willis, whose jurisdiction encompasses much of Atlanta, laid out an array of possible criminal charges in recent letters to state officials and agencies asking them to preserve documents, providing a partial map of the potential exposure of Mr. Trump and his allies.
Mr. Trump’s calls to state officials urging them to subvert the election, for instance, could run afoul of a Georgia statute dealing with criminal solicitation to commit election fraud, one of the charges outlined in the letters. If that charge is prosecuted as a felony, it is punishable by at least a year in prison.
Ms. Willis, 49, is a veteran prosecutor who has carved out a centrist record. She said in the interview that her decision to proceed with the investigation “is really not a choice — to me, it’s an obligation.”
“Each D.A. in the country has a certain jurisdiction that they’re responsible for,” she added. “If an alleged crime happens within their jurisdiction, I think they have a duty to investigate it.”