Trump Acquitted as Impeachment Trial Comes to an End

The Senate voted on Wednesday to acquit President Trump, a largely foreordained outcome to the impeachment trial examining whether he violated his Constitutional duty in his dealings with Ukraine.

On the first article, alleging abuse of power, the tally was 48 votes for guilty, and 52 votes to acquit. All 47 Democrats and independents voted to acquit, along with Republican Sen. Mitt Romney. The remaining 52 Republicans voted not guilty. A two-thirds majority, or 67 senators, was required for conviction.

On the second article, accusing him of obstruction of Congress, the vote was 47 for guilty and 53 for not guilty. Romney sided with the Republicans on the second vote, which was entirely on party lines.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, said that Democrats had become “blinded by hatred” for the president, and warned them to “be careful what you wish for, because it’s going to come back your way.”

“This is sour grapes,” Graham said. “This is not about protecting the country. This is about destroying the president.”

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Trump was accused of abusing his power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate a political rival, former vice President Joe Biden, and of obstructing Congress in an effort to cover it up. Had he been convicted, Trump would have been removed from office and barred from seeking re-election.

In voting “guilty” on the abuse of power article, Romney became the first senator in U.S. history to vote to convict a president of his own party.

“The President is guilty of an appalling abuse of the public trust,” he said on the Senate floor. “Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine.”

Charles Schumer, the leader of the Senate Democrats, said Trump’s conduct was “unforgivable.”

“The president sought to cheat the people out of a free and fair election,” Schumer said. “The Senate majority is poised to look the other way.”

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell argued that the impeachment effort was part of a broader Democratic attack on institutions, after they failed to win elections. “We should agree this is the kind of recklessness the Senate was created to stop,” he said, adding he hoped the failure of the impeachment would cause the “fever to break.”

From the outset it was clear that Republicans would not break ranks in sufficient numbers to get close to the two-thirds majority needed for conviction. Trump was just the third president to be impeached, and is now is the third to be acquitted.

In recent days, Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski, Lamar Alexander and Susan Collins — among the few whose votes were ever in doubt — said they would each vote to acquit. Three moderate Democrats — Doug Jones, Kyrsten Sinema, and Joe Manchin — announced Wednesday they would vote to convict.

The Senate had voted last Friday, also largely on party lines, against seeking testimony and documents in the trial. Democrats wanted to subpoena John Bolton, the former national security adviser, who has reportedly claimed firsthand knowledge of Trump’s demand for a quid pro quo in his unpublished memoir.

Even as the Senate was voting to acquit, Democrats seemed prepared to press ahead with efforts to get Bolton to testify in the House. House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler told reporters Wednesday morning that it was likely the House would subpoena him. Bolton had declined a request to testify before the impeachment inquiry last fall, citing instructions from the White House. But more recently, he said he would be willing to appear at the Senate trial if subpoenaed.

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