Utah's senators explain their votes in Trump's second impeachment trial

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U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called Donald Trump "practically and morally responsible" for his supporters' deadly attack on the Capitol, only moments after voting to acquit the Republican former president on an impeachment charge of inciting the melee.

Sen. Lee said the former president called his phone by mistake, thinking he was calling Sen.

Sen. Mike Lee (Utah), another Trump ally, interrupted a presentation to complain that the House impeachment managers "said something that's not true" - never mind that the Senate had sat in silence during hours of falsehoods from Trump's team. "He didn't get away with anything yet".

Trump denounced his second impeachment trial as "yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our Country".

Even knowing this, most Republican senators, as long expected, voted to acquit Trump, a craven surrender to the political imperative not to cross the demagogue.

US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks about former US President Donald Trump, accusing him of dereliction of duty, during Trump's impeachment trial in Washington February 13, 2021.

A guilty vote by McConnell would have enraged numerous 74 million voters who backed Trump in November, a record for a GOP presidential candidate. "No president has ever gone through anything like it", Trump said. He is still eligible to run for president again in 2024, if he so chooses.

US President Joe Biden has hardly weighed in on the proceedings. His base, by all indications, is still largely intact.

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Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the Senate president pro tempore who is presiding over the trial, called for order in the chamber. Those who broke ranks are already facing ferocious criticism and, in some cases, formal reprimands from their Republican constituents.

A week later, the Democratic-controlled House impeached Trump for inciting insurrection.

While the figure doesn't include the Senate trial, the tab through December is sharply lower than the one for the impeachment investigation and trial of President Bill Clinton two decades ago.

Why did the Senate not hear any witnesses?

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The flip-flop came after discussion of a phone call between the former U.S. president and a top Republican official, Kevin McCarthy, while the riot was going on. He said that because of Trump's actions, "for the first time in American history, the transfer of presidential power was not peaceful" and said Trump had "betrayed the confidence millions of us placed in him".

Instead Trump falsely blamed other groups, not his own supporters, for breaching the Capitol, Herrera Beutler said.

"I haven't laughed at any of you, and there's nothing laughable here", van der Veen said. Herrera Beutler's statement would be admitted as evidence, but this would "not constitute a concession by either party as for the truth of the matters asserted by the other party".

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