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Seven Senate Republicans join Democrats in unsuccessful vote to convict former President Trump

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Despite failing to reach a two-thirds majority, an unprecedented number of Senate Republicans joined Democrats in voting 57 to 43 to convict former President Trump at his second impeachment trial on Saturday. Mr. Trump was ultimately acquitted of a charge of "incitement of insurrection." CBS News political analyst Leslie Sanchez and former senior adviser to the Biden transition team Ashley Allison join CBSN to discuss the future of the Republican party and whether or not President Biden can rally bipartisan support for his $1.9 trillion Coronavirus relief package.

Video Transcript

PATRICK LEAHY: The yeas are 57. The nays are 43. 2/3 of the senators present not having voted guilty. The Senate judges that the respondent Donald John Trump, former president of United States, is not guilty as charged in the Article of impeachment.

NIKKI BATTISTE: Hi, everyone. I'm Nikki Battiste. Thank you for joining us. That was the US Senate voting to acquit former President Donald Trump on charges of incitement of Insurrection at his second impeachment trial Saturday. Seven Republican senators joined Democrats voting 57 to 43 in favor of conviction. It fell just 10 votes short of the 2/3 majority needed.

During the trial Democratic House managers argue the former president laid the foundation for the January 6th attack on the US Capitol weeks in advance. After voting against conviction Republican Senator Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell condemned Mr. Trump's actions and said he was still liable and responsible for everything he did while in office.

MITCH MCCONNELL: The leader of the free world cannot spend weeks thundering that shadowy forces are stealing our country and then feign surprised when people believe him and do reckless things. This was an intensifying crescendo of conspiracy theories orchestrated by an outgoing president who seemed determined to either overturn the voters decision or else torch our institutions are on the way out.

NIKKI BATTISTE: On Sunday House managers defended their handling of the case.

JAMIE RASKIN: I think it was a dramatic success in historical terms. You know, it was the largest impeachment conviction vote in US history. It was by far the most bipartisan majority that's ever assembled in the Senate, but I think that we successfully prosecuted him and convicted him in the court of public opinion and in the court of history.

NIKKI BATTISTE: After the impeachment trial Mr. Trump criticized Democrats in a statement Saturday night. It reads quote, "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." But Mr. Trump's legal troubles are not over. He's facing a slew of federal and civil lawsuits, including a new probe by Georgia's district attorney.

She's investigating his attempt to pressure-- pressure local officials to overturn the results of the 2020 election. For more on this, let's bring in Leslie Sanchez and Ashley Allison. Leslie is a CBS News political analyst. Ashley is a former senior advisor on the Biden transition team.

Leslie, I'm want to start with you. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell obviously has pull with the party and how they vote. If McConnell thought President Trump was guilty of inciting the insurrection, as he seemed to imply, why didn't he vote to convict?

LESLIE SANCHEZ: There's a large body of voters out there who continue to believe this was nothing more than a political exercise. That's how it's been framed. That's how it's been perceived. And while there is more bipartisan support in terms of moving for a conviction on this-- moving for impeachment-- excuse me. It didn't change the political scenario and I think that was the thread that-- that he was-- he was really trying to sew.

There's wide condemnation for what the president said, for his rhetoric, for his actions and certainly that struggle within the Republican Party. But there's also a very strong dose of reality that's over 60% of the Republican Party consider themselves Trump Republicans and there's only a small-- about a third of Republicans who they call establishment Republicans, like the McConnell model who feel that this type of politics needs to change in the minority within his own party.

I think that's where you're here-- he's trying to reconcile these two pieces, but there will be tremendous infighting on in the road ahead.

NIKKI BATTISTE: Ashley, what did you make of McConnell's comments after the vote?

ASHLEY ALLISON: You know, I was quite surprised that he decided to give that speech. There was one speech he could have given that entire day and that was the word guilty. It was clear that he was trying to rewrite history from his boat. And I think the American people aren't going to buy it. The House impeachment-- impeachment managers they made their case. It was very clear. We all watched on January 6th what happened and unfortunately, I think, for the vote McConnell put politics over people and then he tried to make an attempt on that speech to rewrite history.

But we will-- we will not forget that he did not choose to impeach despite his own life being threatened, our democracy being threatened and it's quite unfortunate.

NIKKI BATTISTE: Leslie, I want to go back to you. Senator Mitt Romney was the only Republican senator who voted to convict President Trump in the last impeachment. He was joined by 6 more Republicans in this trial. Did that surprise you?

LESLIE SANCHEZ: Not at all. It speaks to that-- that minority within the Republican Party that a lot of people call the establishment Republicans, right, the never Trumpers. I'm not going to say Romney is going to be in that camp, but he certainly has had his very vocal criticisms of the former president and those were very much in line with-- with what other people who have been part of Washington establishment politics feel about the president's unorthodox-- former president's unorthodox style.

The-- the calculation, though, in moving forward is realizing that that small band is increasingly becoming extinct within the Republican Party. If you look at state leadership, people that are running on the Republican ticket and kind of who has the money and championing resources Romney is outside the realm of that Republican Party. So, again, that's part of-- you're seeing this minority, the Senate is that cooling mechanism even within the Republican Party. But it's a big disconnect between what the Republican Party used to look like-- even of 20 years ago and what it looks like today.

NIKKI BATTISTE: Ashley, after the verdict President Biden issued a statement in which he said it's time to quote "end this uncivil war and heal the very soul of our nation." With the impeachment done, do you think Mr. Biden can bring together the country?

ASHLEY ALLISON: Well, I think what the President Biden put out is not different than his intention his whole governing career. He is for the people. He knows that we're in the middle of a pandemic. And so I am glad that those seven Republicans voted to impeach, but there is an opportunity now for the 43 who decided not to impeach Donald Trump to vote for a COVID package that will actually help the American people, that will actually help their constituents.

And so if I know anything about President Biden, I know that he is going to put the impeachment trial behind him and get to work. He has not lost focus that we have crises of climate, COVID, the economy is in disrepair and we are in a crisis of racial injustice. And so he wants his administration to focus on those issues. He will continue to do his job and he will call again on Republicans to do their job and vote for a package that will actually improve the lives of American.

NIKKI BATTISTE: President Biden certainly as a full plate. Leslie, the Republican Party appears to be at a crossroads. What place will Donald Trump have in Republican politics going forward and what are the prospects of forming a third party?

LESLIE SANCHEZ: I think the prospects of a third party are increasingly small. I mean, it-- it's-- it's-- it's so small it's not a really big part of the conversation within the party. The party is the party of Donald Trump now. That is not the-- the feeling that you want to hear, especially a lot of people who've been frustrated with the last four years, but that is definitely what the party looks like today. It's made up a lot more of grass-- grassroots individuals, people who came from the Tea Party, working class individuals. He received a tremendous amount of African-American and Hispanic support of voters that didn't traditionally see themselves as Republicans 20 years ago.

That new dynamic is very strong and robust and it does not speak to the party of the generation before. And because of that he continues to raise the-- have the platform, have the message, and have the money. And until somebody else comes up, but will still be aligned-- aligned with this populist movement, we're going to continue to hear a lot more about Donald Trump good and bad. His unorthodox style is going to continue to push and polarize this country and it's unfortunate, but it just speaks to the challenges, even internally Republicans have in deciding who they want to be.

NIKKI BATTISTE: Ashley, you touched on COVID-19, but before we go, I want to ask you both about coronavirus relief. Ashley, President Biden has been focused on increasing the nation's vaccine supply and rallying support for his American Rescue Plan. Republicans and Democrats are split over a provision that would double the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Do you anticipate President Biden using the so-called nuclear option and are you concerned by a possible fracture with the far left?

ASHLEY ALLISON: President Biden is going to do what he needs to do to get relief to the American people, whether that requires a 51 vote with the Senate, which would require removing the filibuster. Or whether we can get 10 Republicans to stand with American people who need relief desperately right now. We've been in this pandemic for a year and people have lost their jobs, small businesses are closing, so I know that what is in front of President Biden's mind Vice President Kamala Harris' mind is the people and relief and they will do whatever they need from the executive powers they have all the way to making sure that there is a bill passed in Congress that gets relief to the everyday American working so hard to just keep their head above water.

NIKKI BATTISTE: Leslie, I want to go back to you again. The cost of President Biden's American Rescue Plan is at least $1.9 trillion. Regardless of his desire to reach across the aisle, are Republicans going to work with the president on a bill with a price tag that large?

LESLIE SANCHEZ: Not with that price tag. Not with a blank check. There's going to be accountability measures. They're going to want to make sure those dollars are put to the best use. Best use could be everything from helping state-- state and local governments, helping small businesses. There's going to be a broad area where they can come together. But the minimum wage is not going to be one of them. That's going to be something they're going to ask to be excluded from this. So that they can get to the focus on vaccine, distribution, get the economy moving.

Republicans are still going to be free market in this, right, and try to look at it from that perspective. But there is ground and Republicans have a responsibility to come to the table because they want to be part of this relief. They're just not going to want to be left behind.

NIKKI BATTISTE: Leslie Sanchez and Ashley Ellison, thank you.