/Donald Trump acquitted of both articles of impeachment, keeping him in White House

Donald Trump acquitted of both articles of impeachment, keeping him in White House


Donald Trump has been acquitted over impeachment by the US Senate, ending a historic and turbulent four-month ordeal and freeing him to seek re-election in November. 

Senators voted by 52 to 48 to reject the abuse of power article of impeachment and 53 to 47 to defeat the obstruction of Congress article, meaning he remains in the White House. 

Mitt Romney, the Utah senator and former Republican presidential nominee, was the only member of the body to vote against party lines, saying “guilty” to the charge of abuse of power. 

In an emotional speech on the Senate floor, Mr Romney argued that Mr Trump’s actions in the Ukraine scandal were so “appalling” and “grievously wrong” that he had to go. But other Republicans disagreed. 

Moments after acquittal, Mr Trump tweeted a video joking about remaining in office for ever and said he would give a full response to the “impeachment hoax” at noon today, Washington time. 

The White House’s press secretary released a statement saying the decision amounted to “full vindication and exoneration” for the president. 


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Removal had always looked unlikely, with 67 of the 100 senators needed to vote that way for it to happen. There are just 47 Democratic and independent senators.

In the end every senator voted along with their party’s leadership except Mr Romney, who voted guilty to abuse of power but not guilty to obstruction of Congress. 

That created the remarkable moment of the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential nominee voting to formally remove its 2016 nominee from the White House. 

“The president is guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust,” Mr Romney said in a speech heavy with history and religion delivered moments before the 4pm vote. 

He added: “With my vote I will tell my children, their children, that I did my duty to the best of my ability, believing that my country expected it of me.”

The decision, which made him the first senator in modern times to vote for the removal of a president from their own party, triggered an immediate and fierce backlash from Trump allies. 

Donald Trump Jr, the president’s son, called for Mr Romney to be kicked out of the Republican group in the Senate, repeatedly tweeting the hashtag “ExpelMitt”.

One Democratic senator urged Republican leaders to protect Mr Romney, fearing they would start “feeding him alive to the banshees of the right-wing on social media”. 

But Mr Romney was alone, with other Republican senators deciding that even if Mr Trump’s behaviour was “inappropriate” it did not warrant removal from office so close to an election.  

Mitt Romney appeared emotional at points as he delivered an eight-minute speech explaining his decision to vote guilty on the abuse of power article

Mitt Romney appeared emotional at points as he delivered an eight-minute speech explaining his decision to vote guilty on the abuse of power article

Credit: Senate TV/Handout via Reuters

For the president, acquittal will end a saga that has left him seething. He has issued more than 700 tweets or retweets criticising impeachment and has expressed no remorse about his actions. 

He will attempt to portray the decision as exoneration, hoping to get a bounce in the polls as he tries to do something none of his predecessors has done – win an election after being impeached. 

For the Democrats, there will be reflection as they consider the merits of launching an impeachment which drew almost no Republican congressional support, breaking with previous comments acknowledging only a bipartisan push could work.

There will also be political risk, with scores of Democrats who managed to win seats in the 2018 midterms in Trump-supporting areas by talking about policy rather than the president facing tough re-elections in November. It could put their House majority in doubt. 

The only two other presidents to be impeached, Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998, were both acquitted by the Senate. Mr Johnson failed to win his party’s presidential nomination for the next election while Mr Clinton went on to complete a second term. 


The speed of Mr Trump’s impeachment, from the actions which triggered the Democratic move to his Senate trial, was remarkably quick, taking place over a little more than six months. 

Mr Trump’s phone call to the Ukrainian president when he urged an investigation into his political rival Joe Biden, the moment most central to the impeachment drive, took place on July 25. The Senate vote was on February 5. 

In the end a string of Republican senators had concluded, after months of denials from the White House, that the facts of the case against Mr Trump as put forward by the Democrats had been established. 

The president did try to pressure Ukraine into launching an investigation that would help him in the 2020 election, some concluded, and his decision to hold back almost $400 million was at least in part connected.

Lisa Murkowski, the Republican senator for Alaska, said Mr Trump’s behaviour had been “shameful”. Susan Collins of Maine called it “wrong”. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said it was “not ‘perfect” – as the president has claimed – but “inappropriate”. 

But they also argued the actions did not warrant his removal. Ms Collins said: “I do not believe that the House has met its burden of showing that the president’s conduct, however flawed, warrants the extreme step of immediate removal from office.” 

Rob Portman, a Republican of Ohio said: “While I don’t condone this behavior, these actions do not rise to removing the president from office and taking him off the ballot in a presidential election year that is already well under way.” 

The Democrats had failed last week to get enough votes to call new witnesses, such as former US national security adviser John Bolton, something they said meant there would always be an “asterisk” next to Mr Trump’s acquittal.

Adam Schiff, the Democratic congressman leading the case against Mr Trump in the Senate trial, had issued a final plea to senators this week: “You will not change him. You cannot constrain him. He is who he is.…Now, do impartial justice and convict him.”

The president began drawing a line under the ordeal on Tuesday evening when he used his State of the Union address to lay out his argument for re-election. 

Never mentioning the word “impeachment”, Mr Trump used his 78-minute address to tout what he dubbed the “great American comeback” since he took office in January 2017. 

“Jobs are booming, incomes are soaring, poverty is plummeting, crime is falling, confidence is surging, and our country is thriving and highly respected again,” Mr Trump said. 

“America’s enemies are on the run, America’s fortunes are on the rise, and America’s future is blazing bright.”

Yet it was the way his simmering feud with Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House speaker who launched impeachment, flared up in a pair of public snubs that made the headlines. 

Mr Trump declined to shake Ms Pelosi’s out-stretched hand at the start of the speech, prompting her to raise her arm in surprise. 

At the end of the address Ms Pelosi got her revenge, picking up sheets of the president’s speech and tearing them in two as he stood and took in the applause. 

The move, caught on cameras with Mrs Pelosi sitting just behind Mr Trump, was soon clipped up and being circulated on social media and replayed by cable news. 

Mrs Pelosi, who was later seen holding the ripped pieces aloft, justified the gesture by saying the speech had been a “manifesto of mistruth”. 

Republicans were left infuriated, with Mr Trump sharing tweets calling it a “tantrum” and “uncouth”.

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