"Senators, how say you, is the respondent Donald John Trump guilty or not guilty?"
The answer to that question came back Saturday: 57 guilty to 43 not guilty - a tally that fell short of the two-thirds majority required in the Senate to convict former President Trump for inciting the deadly January 6th assault on the U.S. Capitol.
Only seven Republicans crossed party lines to vote guilty: Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, Ben Sasse, Pat Toomey, Lisa Murkowski... as well as Bill Cassidy and Richard Burr.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer railed against the final verdict.
"Despite the results of the vote on Donald Trump's conviction in the court of impeachment. He deserves to be convicted, and I believe he will be convicted in the court of public opinion."
The vote wrapped up a chaotic day in the Senate chamber, after the Democratic House managers unexpectedly sought witness testimony from Republican Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington State... who said late on Friday that top House Republican, Kevin McCarthy, had told her about a call he had with Trump while the Capitol siege was happening.
But after a surprise vote to approve calling witnesses, Democrats reversed course... agreeing to simply submit her statement as evidence, which lead House manager Jamie Raskin read aloud on the Senate floor.
"When McCarthy finally reached the president on January 6th and asked him to publicly and forcefully call off the riot, the president initially initially repeated the falsehood that it was Antifa that had breached the Capitol. McCarthy refuted that and told the president that these were Trump supporters. That's when, according to McCarthy, the president said, well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are."
That final piece of evidence was added to a mountain of tweets, public statements and graphic videos that the House managers said made clear that Trump had set the stage for the violence... and then did nothing to stop it.
In the end, it wasn't enough to sway most Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said it was his view that Trump was "not eligible for conviction" because he was out of office... but said Trump was responsible for provoking the Capitol riot.
"Former President Trump's actions that preceded the riot were a disgraceful dereliction of duty. There is no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. No question about it."
Trump may have survived his second impeachment trial but he still faces prosecution in New York and Georgia, and could still face federal charges from the Department of Justice.