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Republican Senators acquit Trump for role in Jan. 6 insurrection

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The yeas were 57, ten votes short of the 67 required in the Senate to convict former President Donald Trump of inciting the deadly January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett reviews this week's historic trial, in which most Senate Republicans, including GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, chose to acquit Mr. Trump, even as McConnell excoriated him for election fraud lies and the violence that spread into the very halls of Congress.

Video Transcript

- We've just been through quite a week in Washington.

Followed by quite a day yesterday, a rare Saturday session of the Senate in which former President Donald Trump was acquitted, after a historic second impeachment trial.

- He's not guilty as charged in the Articles of Impeachment.

- The vote was 57, guilty; 43, not guilty-- short of the 2/3 majority required. Here's Major Garrett to sum things up.

- The yeas are 57. The nays are 43.

MAJOR GARRETT: The final vote on acquittal came 10 votes short of the 67 required to convict former President Donald Trump of inciting the January 6 riot at the US Capitol.

DONALD TRUMP: We fight like hell. And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore.

MAJOR GARRETT: That assault by flag-waving, armed Trump supporters came shortly after the president spoke, and followed months of him spewing the so-called big lie that he had been fraudulently denied re-election. Democratic impeachment manager Joe Neguse of Colorado.

JOE NEGUSE: Because he assembled the mob. He summoned the mob, and he incited the mob.

- Mr. Burr, guilty.

MAJOR GARRETT: Seven Republicans voted to convict. Not among them, Kentucky's Mitch McConnell. Yet the Senate Minority leader later excoriated Mr. Trump's election fraud lies and the violence that he said flowed from them.

MITCH MCCONNELL: There's no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.

MAJOR GARRETT: History will record this impeachment process, both in the House and the Senate, as the most bipartisan exercise of its kind. Acquittal, as we know, was almost always certain, but the trial was about much more than the verdict.

It established a historical record about what happened that horrible day. New video released during the proceedings revealed a mob beating and bludgeoning law enforcement, at least one officer pinned in agony between doors. More than 130 officers were injured, many seriously. One died. Two committed suicide in the immediate aftermath of the onslaught. Impeachment manager David Cicilline of Rhode Island praised the police.

DAVID CICILLINE: They showed up here to serve, to serve the American people, to serve their government, to serve all of us.

MAJOR GARRETT: For the first time, we saw Vice President Mike Pence and his entourage exiting the Senate chamber seeking safety; Senator Mitt Romney running from marauders, guided by a Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman; and this, Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer, led by his armed security, retreating down a basement hallway.

JAMIE RASKIN: Is this America?

MAJOR GARRETT: Lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin of Maryland.

JAMIE RASKIN: Can our country and our democracy ever be the same if we don't hold accountable the person responsible for inciting the violent attack against our country?

MAJOR GARRETT: The trial exposed Republican divisions over Mr. Trump's offenses and their gravity and affirmed the former president's powerful sway over the GOP. The specter of a 2024 Trump bid for the presidency hung over the proceedings. House manager Ted Lieu of California.

TED LIEU: You know, I'm not afraid of Donald Trump running again in four years. I'm afraid he's going to run again and lose, 'cause he can do this again.

MAJOR GARRETT: House managers argued President Trump spent months spreading disinformation that culminated in an ugly spectacle. Delegate Stacey Plaskett of the Virgin Islands.

STACEY PLASKETT: And he had a pattern and practice of praising and encouraging that violence, never ever condemning it. The insurgents believed that they were doing the duty of their president. They were following his orders.

MAJOR GARRETT: The former president's legal team knew they'd likely prevail and mounted a defense based on complaints about partisanship, process, and first Amendment protections for political speech. Attorney Michael van der Veen.

MICHAEL VAN DER VEEN: No thinking person could seriously believe that the president's January 6 speech on the ellipse was in any way an incitement to violence or insurrection.

MAJOR GARRETT: Attorney David Schoen.

DAVID SCHOEN: You get more due process in this when you fight a parking ticket.

MAJOR GARRETT: Mr. Trump's lawyers accuse Democrats of using language similar to their clients.

ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: To fight--

STACEY ABRAMS: We've have been fighting--

Our fight--

MICHAEL VAN DER VEEN: Suddenly, the word fight is off limits? Spare us the hypocrisy and false indignation.

MAJOR GARRETT: Left unsaid, none of those examples were followed by armed insurrection. The president's attorneys did not attempt to counter the accusation Mr. Trump did nothing to stop the violence once it started. Nor did they deny the election was fair and accurate.

JAMIE RASKIN: This trial in the final analysis is not about Donald Trump. The country and the world know who Donald Trump is. This trial is about who we are, who we are.

MAJOR GARRETT: At one point in the trial, Congressman Raskin quoted French Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire.

JAMIE RASKIN: "Anyone who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities."

MAJOR GARRETT: Another of Voltaire's observations might also apply-- "every man is guilty of all the good he did not do."