The Senate on Wednesday acquitted President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, capping the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history as the 2020 race for the White House kicks into high gear.
With the Senate controlled by Trump’s Republican Party and 67 votes required to remove him from office, the president’s acquittal was long expected by investors
. But the monthslong drama helped to supercharge an already-heated political battle as Trump and Democrats cast their eyes toward November’s elections.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives in December backed the articles of impeachment, charging that Trump abused his power by withholding aid to Ukraine to pressure the country to announce investigations that could benefit him politically. Democrats also charged Trump with obstructing Congress’s probe by instructing his top advisers to defy subpoenas.
Senators voted 52 to 48 to acquit Trump on the abuse charge, and 53 to 47 on obstruction.
“It is, therefore, ordered and adjudged that the said Donald John Trump be, and he is hereby, acquitted of the charges in said articles,” said Chief Justice John Roberts, who presided over the trial, following the second vote.
Sen. Mitt Romney was the sole Republican to break with his party, joining all Democrats in voting “guilty” for the first article. The 2012 GOP presidential nominee called Trump “guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust” before voting. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor elected in 2018 to represent Utah in the Senate, became the first senator in history to vote for the conviction and removal of a president from his own party. He voted “not guilty” on the second article.
Trump denied wrongdoing, calling the impeachment effort a hoax. As impeachment managers argued their case during the trial, Trump’s attorneys defended him by saying Democrats had not proven guilt. Trump lawyer Alan Dershowitz argued that even if the president had undertaken a quid pro quo, conditioning military aid and a White House visit on the Ukrainian president’s announcement of an investigation that could benefit Trump’s re-election, it wouldn’t be impeachable.
With the impeachment saga closed, Democrats look set to continue investigating Trump’s conduct in office. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said Wednesday that Democrats will likely subpoena John Bolton, the former national-security adviser, who claims in a forthcoming book that Trump told him he wanted to tie the Ukraine aid to an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who had been a highly compensated board member with an energy company in Ukraine.
Bolton signaled willingness to testify in the Senate trial, but Republicans voted against calling witnesses and admitting new evidence in the trial.
Trump, meanwhile, is pivoting toward his re-election campaign as Democrats compete in early nominating states like Iowa and New Hampshire.
He went on the attack against Democrats in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, blasting the “Medicare for All” plans favored by Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and touted low U.S. unemployment and a revamped U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement.
Trump did not mention impeachment in his speech. But his visible rift with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was seen tearing up a copy of his address, suggested there is little appetite for cooperation on issues including infrastructure
and lowering drug prices
before the election.