U.S. President Donald Trump won impeachment acquittal in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, bringing to a close only the third presidential trial in American history with votes splitting the country, testing civic norms, and fueling the tumultuous White House 2020 race.
With the presidency of Chief Justice John Roberts, senators vowed to do “impartial justice” stood at their desks to announce their votes for the roll call-” guilty “or” not guilty-almost “entirely along party lines in a rapid countdown. Visitors watched from the packed room, including the president’s allies. Roberts read the statement that Trump is “acquitted of charges, and is hereby.”
Wednesday’s conclusion followed months of extraordinary impeachment proceedings, from the House of Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the Senate of Mitch McConnell, representing the unrelenting three-year polarization of the country through Trump’s presidency.
What began as Trump’s appeal for Ukraine to “do us a favor” spun into a far-reaching, 28,000-page study published by House investigators accusing a US president of engaging in shadow diplomacy that undermined US foreign relations for immediate, political gain as he forced the ally to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden ahead of the next elections.
The Senate has never removed any President.
A publicly emboldened Trump has confidently foretold vindication, using the decision in his reelection campaign as a national anthem. The president maintains that he has done nothing wrong, dismissing the “witch hunt” and “hoax” as extensions of the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller to Russian 2016 campaign interference by those out to get him from the beginning of his presidency.
A majority of senators expressed unhappiness with Trump’s campaign of pressure on Ukraine which culminated in the two articles of impeachment. Yet two-thirds of “guilty” votes would have been required to hit the threshold of high crimes and misdemeanors in the Constitution to convict Trump and remove him from office. The final tallies had fallen well short.
The vote was 52-48 recommending acquittal on the first point of impeachment, abuse of power. The second, Congress obstruction, also issued a non-guilty verdict, 53-47.
Just one Republican, the party’s defeated presidential nominee Mitt Romney of Utah, broke with the GOP.