Trump impeachment: divided reaction in US after former president acquitted – live updates

2.50pm EST 14:50

The House impeachment managers said yesterday that they decided not to call witnesses in the Senate trial in part because they feared the request could hold up the proceedings for months.

Impeachment manager Stacey Plaskett told reporters yesterday that some of the witnesses they wanted to talk to, who could testify to Donald Trump’s actions and mindset on January 6, “were not friendly . . . to us and would have required subpoenas and months of litigation.”

If the trial were held up for months as subpoenas were issued and then litigated, Senate Republicans may have had the opportunity to grind Joe Biden’s agenda to a halt because the chamber is not supposed to conduct other business while an impeachment trial is underway.

In the end, it seems Democrats chose to prioritize Biden’s agenda, specifically his coronavirus relief package, over their desire to uncover more details about the Capitol insurrection that resulted in five deaths.

Rather than calling any witnesses, the impeachment managers simply added the statement from Republican congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler about Trump’s January 6 call with House minority leader Kevin McCarthy to the official trial record.

That decision was criticized by some liberals, who argued Democratic lawmakers had missed out on a prime opportunity to uncover more details about that violent day and potentially win more Republican votes for conviction.

Impeachment managers have responded to that criticism by noting that Trump would almost certainly have been acquitted in the end anyway, given that it would take 17 Republican votes to convict him.

2.39pm EST 14:39

The House impeachment managers are defending their decision not to call witnesses in the Senate trial, allowing the proceedings to come to a quick end yesterday.

Impeachment manager Stacey Plaskett addressed the “angst” among some liberals, who complained that Democratic lawmakers caved on the witnesses issue.

“I know that people are feeling a lot of angst, and believe that maybe if we had this, the senators would have done what we wanted,” Plaskett told CNN this morning.

“We didn’t need more witnesses, we needed more senators with spines. We believe that we proved the case, we proved the elements of the article of impeachment. It’s clear that these individuals were hardened, that they did not want to let the [former] president be convicted, or disqualified.”

Lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin echoed that logic on NBC, saying, “There’s no reasoning with people who basically are acting like members of a religious cult.”

2.14pm EST 14:14

Senate Republicans are apparently not eager to face questions over their votes to acquit Donald Trump of incitement of insurrection.

Closing out “Face the Nation” this morning, anchor Margaret Brennan noted that the show asked more than 24 Republican senators for interviews today.

“We did offer invitations to over two dozen Senate Republicans to join us today. No one accepted,” Brennan said.

After the impeachment trial ended yesterday, Republicans who voted to acquit Trump said their votes were largely based on jurisdictional concerns.

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said that Trump was “practically and morally responsible” for the January 6 insurrection, but he said he voted to acquit because he did not think it was constitutional to hold an impeachment trial for a president who had already left office.

The Senate held a vote on the constitutionality of the trial on Tuesday, and the chamber voted 56-44 that the trial was constitutional, but many Republicans seemed to ignore the outcome of that vote when deciding whether Trump was guilty.

2.00pm EST 14:00

On a non-impeachment note, the US is celebrating Valentine’s Day today, and even the country’s most senior officials are getting in on the fun.

Vice-President Kamala Harris shared a photo of President Joe Biden’s recent visit to her office, where he pointed out a window that was once decorated by his wife.

“During a @POTUS visit to my office (his old office), he showed me where - on Valentine’s Day in 2009 - @FLOTUS wrote ‘Joe loves Jill’ on all the window panes. I love that story! To @POTUS, @FLOTUS, and all Americans: #HappyValentines,” Harris said in a tweet.

1.47pm EST 13:47

This is Joan Greve in Washington, taking over the blog for the next few hours.

Washington in general, and the Republican party specifically, is still trying to figure out the path forward now that Donald Trump has been acquitted in his second impeachment trial.

The Senate voted to acquit Trump of incitement of insurrection yesterday. Seven Republicans joined their Democratic colleagues in finding Trump guilty of inciting the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, but those 57 votes fell short of the 67 needed to convict the former president.

Now that he has been acquitted, Trump is free to run for the White House again in 2024 if he so chooses. The verdict guarantees that Trump will continue to wield a lot of power over Republican lawmakers and voters over the next few years.

The blog will have more updates and analysis of the fallout from the impeachment trial coming up, so stay tuned.

Updated at 2.38pm EST

1.28pm EST 13:28

Rochelle Walensky, the head of the CDC, has said she does not believe all teachers in the US need to be vaccinated before returning to in-person classes.

“I’m a strong advocate of teachers receiving their vaccinations, but we don’t believe it’s a prerequisite for reopening schools,” said on Sunday during an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union. However, she added that those who are in higher risk categories should be allowed to teach from home until they receive a vaccination.

“We have in the guidance clear language that specifies that teachers that are at higher risk ... teachers and students that are higher risk, and their families, should have options for virtual activities, virtual learning, virtual teaching,” she said.

1.14pm EST 13:14

Martin Pengelly

Martin Pengelly

Richard Burr’s vote to convict Donald Trump did not bring down the former president but it may have made Lara Trump “almost certain” to be nominated for the US Senate, key Trump ally Lindsey Graham said on Sunday.

“Certainly I would be behind her because she represents the future of the Republican party,” the South Carolina senator said of the former president’s daughter-in-law, adding that the future should be “Trump-plus”.

Burr, a former chair of the Senate intelligence committee, will retire as a senator from North Carolina at the end of his current term.

On Saturday, he and six other Republicans voted to convict Trump on a charge of insurrection linked to the US Capitol attack. It made Trump’s second impeachment the most bipartisan ever but he was acquitted nonetheless.

Burr’s state Republican party condemned what it called his “shocking and disappointing” vote.

Lara Trump is married to Eric Trump, the former president’s second son. She has been reported to be interested in running for Senate in her native state.

“The biggest winner I think of this whole impeachment trial is Lara Trump,” Graham told Fox News Sunday. “My dear friend Richard Burr, who I like and I’ve been friends to a long time, just made Lara Trump almost a certain nominee for the Senate seat in North Carolina to replace him if she runs.

“Now certainly I would be behind her because she represents the future of the Republican party.”

You can read the full article below:

12.57pm EST 12:57

Guardian US columnist Lawrence Douglas says Republicans did not just acquit Trump – they let themselves off too.

Whatever else we might think about the Republicans’ vote of acquittal, it answers a question that millions of Americans have been pondering since Donald Trump took office four years ago. At what point would congressional Republicans say “enough”? Having first indulged and then endorsed Trump’s trampling of constitutional norms and abuse of the presidency, when would Republican lawmakers say, “No more”?

Now we have our answer. Never. If Trump’s act of inciting a mob to attack the Capitol in an attempt to subvert the certification of a fair and democratic election does not constitute impeachable conduct, then it’s hard to imagine what does. Still, history will record that the vast majority of Republican senators voted to acquit, a group that included eleven lawmakers who, two decades ago, agitated for President Clinton’s removal.

You can read the full article below:

12.41pm EST 12:41

Rahm Emanuel, who served as Barack Obama’s chief of staff as well as Chicago mayor, says Donald Trump will be out for revenge against Republicans who have crossed him.

He told ABC’s This Week that Trump “won’t run [for president in 2024], but he is going to spend the next two years on retribution ... He is going after every Republican that either said something bad, or voted against them.”

Rahm also suggested Republicans’ decision to ignore Trump’s flaws contributed to their loss of power in Congress.

“[Republicans] didn’t want to cut him off. He made a Faustian bargain with them. And that’s what’s coming to the Republican Party,” Emanuel added. “1932 ... was the last time a party – that is the Republicans – lost the presidency, the Senate and the House. That’s how far back you go for this moment in time to have a corresponding point in history.”

12.23pm EST 12:23

Anthony Fauci, the top infectious diseases expert in the US, says that schools need more financial help before they can reopen fully. Fauci was appearing on ABC’s This Week and said that a new stimulus bill was crucial to give schools the resources they need to ensure the safety of pupils and teachers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I think that the schools really do need more resources and that’s the reason why the national relief act that we’re talking about getting passed – we need that”, Fauci said during his appearance on Sunday morning. “The schools need more resources.”

Fauci has been keen for schools to reopen when it is safe to do so, citing the negative effects on children’s development from studying at home.

“I think it can be done. I mean, obviously it’s not a perfect situation, but it’s really important to get the children back to school in a safest way as possible. Safe for the children, but also safe for the teachers and the other educators,” Fauci said.

There has been concern in the US – and around the world – that some vaccines may be less effective against new strains, such as the South African variant. However, Fauci expressed confidence in vaccines, even against new strains of the virus.

“We do know that it evades the protection from some of the monoclonal antibodies and it diminishes somewhat the capability and the effectiveness of the vaccine to block it. It doesn’t eliminate it but it diminishes it by multiple fold. There’s still some cushion left so that the vaccine does provide some protection against it,” Fauci said.

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