U.S. President Donald Trump, impeached by the House of Representatives , was acquitted by the Senate late afternoon on Wednesday, bringing to a close a bitter process that lasted close to five months. Senators voted 52 to 48 to acquit Mr. Trump on the abuse of office charge, with Republican Mitt Romney voting alongside all 47 Democrats. They voted 53-47 as per party lines to acquit the president of the charge of obstruction of Congress.
“The president is guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust,” Mr. Romney said before the vote. “Corrupting an election to keep one's self in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one's oath of office that I can imagine.”
Mr. Romney is the first senator in U.S. history to vote to convict a president from his own party. There was speculation earlier on Wednesday that some Democrat senators – such as Krysten Sinema (Arizona) and Joe Manchin(West Virginia) would vote with Republicans to acquit the President, but they did not do so.
Mr. Trump was impeached by the House for conditioning $391 million in military assistance to Ukraine and a crucial White House meeting with its president Volodymyr Zelensky on the Ukrainians publicly announcing investigations into Mr Trump’s political rival, former Vice President Joseph Biden and his son, Hunter.
Shortly after the vote Mr. Trump tweeted a video of election signs starting with ‘Trump 2024’ and culminating in ‘Trump 4EVA’ (i.e., ‘Trump forever’). Mr. Trump has repeatedly joked that he might serve more than the constitutionally mandated limit of two terms.
“Had failed presidential candidate @MittRomney devoted the same energy and anger to defeating a faltering Barack Obama as he sanctimoniously does to me, he could have won the election. Read the Transcripts,” Mr. Trump tweeted a few hours later.
“Today, the sham impeachment attempt concocted by the Democrats ended in the full vindication and exoneration of President Donald J. Trump,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said via a statement.
Speaking before the vote Senate Democrat Leader Chuck Schumer criticised the arguments law professor and criminal defence attorney Alan Dershowitz had made on the Senate floor in defence of Mr. Trump. “These are the excuses of a child, caught in a lie.”
Mr. Schumer called the arguments in defence of Mr. Trump, “as dangerous to the Republic as this president … a fig leaf so large, as to excuse any presidential misconduct.”
Senate Democrats could not get enough GOP votes to summon fresh witnesses and evidence during the impeachment trial. Among the possible material witnesses Democrats wanted to hear from was former National Security Advisor John Bolton. Mr. Bolton had, as per reports of a leaked book manuscript, said that Mr Trump had asked him to withhold the aid to Ukraine pending an announcement of the investigations.
House Democrats are “likely “ to subpoena Mr. Bolton, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler told reporters on Wednesday.
“When you have a lawless president, you have to bring that to the fore, you have to spotlight that, you have to protect the Constitution whatever the political consequences,” Mr. Nadler said.
Trump continues to lash out
At the annual National Prayer Breakfast meeting on Thursday Mr. Trump criticised his political opponents.
“I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong, “ Mr. Trump said in a reference to Mr. Romney, who had alluded to his faith during remarks about voting to convict Mr. Trump.
“Nor do I like people who say, ‘I pray for you,’ when they know that’s not so,” Mr. Trump said, in a comment directed at Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who has said before that she prays for the President.
Ms. Pelosi, who was also present, was seen standing and clapping for Mr. Trump as he was introduced. The last time they were in the same room was on Tuesday, at the House, when Mr. Trump did not shake Ms. Pelosi’s hand and Ms. Pelosi tore up a copy of Mr. Trump’s State of the Union address after he was done delivering it.
Mr. Trump is scheduled to deliver remarks on his impeachment and acquittal later on Thursday.