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President Trump acquitted of impeachment charges in US Senate

U.S. President Donald Trump thumbs up as he welcomes Venezuelan National Assembly President and opposition leader Juan Guaido before their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on February 5, 2020. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)
February 05, 2020

The U.S. Senate voted Wednesday to acquit President Donald Trump on two impeachment charges passed along party lines through the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.

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The Republican-controlled Senate voted to acquit Trump on a vote of 48-52 on the first chargeswith Utah Sen. Mitt Romney was the sole Republican to vote in favor of Trump’s conviction on that charge. Romney voted not guilty on the second charge for “obstruction of Congress,” bringing the vote on the second charge to 47-53.

The vote fell far short of the supermajority of 67 senators required to remove a president from office after an impeachment. Romney’s decision to vote in favor of conviction does, however, support the conclusion that the lawmakers were bipartisan in their vote to remove Trump from office.

By contrast, the House impeachment vote did see two Democratic lawmakers vote in opposition to the first charge and three voted in opposition to the second charge. Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard also voted present on both charges, abstaining from casting a decision for or against the impeachment charges.

The first impeachment charge, for “abuse of power” came as a result of allegations Trump withheld foreign aid to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate indications former Vice President Joe Biden pressured past Ukrainian officials to fire the prosecutor investigating his son’s Ukrainian oil company, Burisma.

While the House impeachment managers argued there was clear pressure by Trump against Zelensky, Trump’s defense team argued Zelensky and other Ukrainian government officials denied feeling pressured by Trump. The president’s lawyers also argued no link between an investigation and aid to Ukraine was ever officially communicated.

The second impeachment charge, for “obstruction of Congress,” came as a result of Trump’s resistance to calls for House subpoenas for executive branch officials and documents. Trump’s defense team argued House Democrats failed to adjudicate their subpoenas and that Trump had a right to exert executive privilege and properly sought the opinions of the judiciary to render a verdict on whether his privilege claims were valid.