The Senate voted to acquit President Donald Trump on two articles of impeachment Wednesday, marking the inevitable and historic end to a bitterly fought, divisive impeachment trial that will reverberate into the 2020 election and shape Trump’s presidential legacy.
Only the third US leader ever placed on trial, Trump readily defeated the effort to expel him from office for having illicitly sought help from Ukraine to bolster his 2020 re-election effort.
Despite being confronted with strong evidence, Republicans stayed loyal and mustered a majority of votes to clear the president of both charges — by 52 to 48 on the first, 53 to 47 on the second — falling far short of the two-thirds supermajority required for conviction.
“Two-thirds of the senators present not having pronounced him guilty, the Senate adjudges that respondent Donald John Trump, President of the United States, is not guilty as charged,” said Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who presided over the trial.
The acquittal verdict was the final act of a four-month impeachment process that inflamed the partisan tensions simmering throughout the course of the Trump administration, the friction that boiled over during the State of the Union even though Trump left impeachment out of his speech.
After the Senate acquitted Trump of both charges, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would not say at a press conference whether he thought what Trump did was wrong, or if he agreed with some Republican colleagues it was inappropriate for a president to ask a foreign power to probe a political rival.
Earlier on Wednesday, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi denounced the Senate’s acquittal of President Donald Trump on Wednesday, saying he remains “an ongoing threat to American democracy.”
The Republican-majority Senate voted 52-48 to acquit Trump of abuse of power and 53-47 to acquit him of obstruction of Congress.
Earlier this month, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) “has redacted portions of 24 documents pursuant to the Presidential Communications Privilege,” OMB’s deputy general counsel Heather Walsh said in a court filing, cited by US media.
Ukraine’s former president had said that he discussed investments with President Donald Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, in 2017, but that he never discussed Ukrainian companies with any US official.
On December 18, President Trump was formally impeached in a historic vote in the House of Representatives.
Adam Schiff, who led the House investigation, said the fact that it came after Mueller’s investigation showed that Trump’s 2016 campaign had actively sought help from Russia forced Democrats to act.
“We must say enough — enough! He has betrayed our national security, and he will do so again,” Schiff argued on the Senate floor this week.
(With inputs from agency)