Donald Trump was acquitted on the two articles of impeachment against him on Wednesday, bringing a four-month fractious trial and inquiry to a close.
The final outcome was an almost certainty in the Republican-controlled Senate where it would have taken a two-thirds majority to remove him from office.
The president took to Twitter to respond, re-upping a video from June of last year that showed Trump winning election after election, ending up as president forever. The final slide in it reads: ‘‘Trump4Eva.’
He also said he’d make a statement from the White House on Thursday.
‘I will be making a public statement tomorrow at 12:00pm from the @WhiteHouse to discuss our Country’s VICTORY on the Impeachment Hoax!,’ he tweeted.
And White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham put on a statement slamming the ‘sham impeachment attempt concocted by Democrats.’
‘This was yet another witch-hunt that deprived the president of his due process rights and was based on a series of lies,’ she said. ‘The president is pleased to put this latest chapter of shameful behavior by the Democrats in the past, and looks forward to continuing his work on behalf of the American people in 2020 and beyond.’
And Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the president remains a ‘threat’ that the House will continue to combat through its lawsuits against the administration and with the public.
‘Sadly, because of the Republican Senate’s betrayal of the Constitution, the President remains an ongoing threat to American democracy, with his insistence that he is above the law and that he can corrupt the elections if he wants to. The House will continue to protect and defend the checks and balances in the Constitution that safeguard our Republic, both in the courts of law and in the court of public opinion,’ she said.
President Trump responded to impeachment vote by tweeting a ‘Trump 4Eva’ video
During the final portion of the trial, which lasted around 45 minutes, Chief Justice John Roberts presided over the the two votes – one for each article – and instructed senators to vote ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty,’ which is different from the usual ‘yeah’ or ‘nay’ lawmakers say.
Silence reigned during the votes, the only sound being the clerk of the Senate calling the roll and the senator responding.
At the end of each vote, Roberts pronounced Trump ‘not guilty as charged.’
On the first article, abuse of power, 48 senators voted guilty and 52 found the president not guilty. For the second vote, on obstruction of Congress, 47 senators voted guilty and 53 voted not guilty.
With the votes concluded, Roberts gave the final judgement.
‘The Senate having tried Donald J. Trump – president of the united States – upon two articles of impeachment exhibited against him by the House of Representatives and 2/3 of the senators present not having found him guilty of the charges contained therein, it is therefore order and judged that the said Donald John Trump be hereby acquitted of the charges in the said articles,’ Roberts pronounced.
Donald Trump was acquitted on the two articles of impeachment against him
The Senate vote on Wednesday brought the four-month impeachment process to a close
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, when the trial was over, said it was time move ahead.
‘It’s time to move on,’ he said at a press conference in the Capitol. ‘This decision has been made. As far as I’m concerned it’s in the rear view mirror.’
And then he returned to the Senate floor to conduct business as usual, moving forward on judicial nominations.
The trial, which was contentious at times, ended on a courteous note. McConnell and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer both spoke to thank staff, the teenage Senate pages, and U.S. Capitol Police for the work during the trial’s long hours, when the Senate was in session up to 12 or 13 hours a day.
Additionally, the Senate awarded Roberts the Golden Gavel, which is a trophy given to senators after they’ve spent 100 hours presiding over the chamber.
McConnell noted Roberts hit that bench mark during the trial.
Senators applauded Roberts after McConnell announced the honor.
‘I know that my colleagues join me in thanking Chief Justice Roberts for presiding over the Senate trial with a clear head and steady hand and the forbearance that this rare occasion demands,’ McConnell said.
‘We know full well that his presence as our presiding officer came in addition to and not instead of his day job across the street. So the Senate thanks the chief justice and his staff who helped him to perform this unique role. Like his predecessor, Chief Rehnquist, the Senate will present him the golden gavel for his time to preside over this body, and we typically award this to the senators who have put in 100 hours, but we can all believe that the chief justice has put in his due and then some.’
‘Thank you very much,’ Roberts said.
He also offered his own words of thanks, making the longest speech of his tenure in the Senate during his closing remarks.
The Senate awarded Chief Justice John Roberts the Golden Gavel for his service
A Senate page brings Justice Roberts the golden gavel award
He thanked the Senate leaders, the staff, and Capitol Police.
He also thanked the Senators.
‘And thank you, all, for making my presence here as comfortable as possible. As I depart the chamber, I so so with the invitation to visit the court by long tradition and in memory of the 135 years we sat in this building. We keep the front row of the gallery in our courtroom open for members of Congress who might want to drop by to see an argument or to escape one. I also depart with sincere good wishes as we carry out our common commitment to the constitution through the distinct roles assigned to us by that charter. You have been generous host, and I look forward to seeing you again under happier circumstances,’ Roberts said.
And then he gaveled the trial to a close: ‘I move that the Senate sitting as the court of impeachment on the articles against Donald John Trump adjourn – sine die.’
Despite the outcome being pre-ordained, there were some surprises in the final hours leading up to the 4 p.m. vote – namely the decision of Republican Senator Mitt Romney to break ranks with his party and vote to convict the president on the abuse of power charge.
He was the only Republican to do so in a move that stunned Capitol Hill.
‘The grave question the Constitution tasks senators to answer is whether the president committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a “high crime and misdemeanor,’ Romney said ahead of the vote. ‘Yes, he did.’
He voted to acquit on the obstruction of Congress charge.
But Romney’s decision will deny Trump a talking point he desperately coveted – that all Republicans stood by him in his hour of need.
The White House has bragged that all House Republicans voted with the president – an assertion they won’t be able to make about the Senate.
McConnell indicated Romney would face discipline from him for his face.
‘We don’t have any dog houses here. The most important vote is the next vote,’ he said when asked how long Romney would be in the dog house.
Schumer applauded Romney and charged other Republicans would have voted the same if they weren’t afraid of the wrath of the president.
‘Donald Trump has them all very fearful,’ the Democratic leader said. ‘They’re always afraid of Donald Trump. He brokers no descension.’
Democratic House manager Adam Schiff arrives to the Senate floor for the vote
Chief Justice John Roberts arrives in Capitol to preside over the vote
Democrats, meanwhile, did not lose a single vote despite speculation that red state Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Doug Jones of Alabama could side with the president.
To do so would have allowed Trump to brag about a bipartisan acquittal. He was denied that talking point too.
All three announced Wednesday they would vote to convict.
And it remains to be seen what political consequences remain for the lawmakers. Only Jones is up in the November election.
And the senators running for the Democratic presidential nomination – Michael Bennet, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren – all voted to convict on both articles.
Romney acknowledged he would face the fury of the president for his decision and he pre-taped an interview with Fox News, that ran shortly after his speech on the Senate floor, to explain his decision. The president is a frequent viewer of Fox News.
Romney, a deeply-religious Mormon, cited his faith as the reason behind his decision.
At times he choked up on the Senate floor during his remarks, pausing and taking deep breathes before he continued.
‘The allegations made in the articles of impeachment are very serious. As a senator juror, I swore an oath before god to exercise impartial justice. I am profoundly religious. My faith is at the heart of who I am. I take an oath before god as enormously consequential. I knew from the outset that being tasked with judging the president, the leader of my own party would be the most difficult decision I have ever faced,’ he said in his remarks on the Senate floor.
Mitt Romney announced he will vote to convict Donald Trump on the abuse of power charge
Mitt Romney cited his faith as the reason and said he expected feel President Trump’s wrath for his decision
Romney explained his reasoning behind the abuse of power decision, saying he was convinced President Trump acted as he did because it involved Joe and Hunter Biden, Trump’s political rivals.
‘There’s no question in my mind that were there names not Biden the president would never have done what he did,’ Romney said.
The senator has a hot-and-cold relationship with the president. He railed against Trump’s candidacy during the 2016 Republican presidential party but embraced him when Trump won the Oval Office. The two men have agreed and disagreed on various issues.
Romney handled the impeachment trial carefully and was one of two Republicans who voted with Democrats to call additional witnesses. That vote failed in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Romney’s announcement stunned Capitol Hill
Mitt Romney and Donald Trump had dinner together at Jean Georges in New York shortly after Trump won the 2016 election
Romney told Fox News’ Chris Wallace that he was prepared for the consequences of his decision. He next faces voters in 2024. Trump endorsed Romney in his 2018 election.
‘I do believe he should be removed from office,’ he said.
Wallace pointed out to him: ‘You realize this is war. Donald Trump will never forgive you for this.’
‘I know in my heart that I’m doing what’s right,’ Romney responded. ‘I understand there’s going to be enormous consequence. I don’t have a choice in that regard. That’s why I haven’t been anxious to be in the position I’m in. When I heard there was going to be an impeachment investigation, as I heard the evidence coming forward, I dreaded the responsibility I have. But I was not willing to abdicate the responsibility given to me by the constitution, nor to ignore my conscience out of personal and political significance considerations. I had to follow my conscience.’
‘This is the most difficult decision I’ve ever made in my life. There’s been nothing that compares to this,’ he added.
Mitt Romney taped an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace Wednesday morning to explain his decision
The Republican-controlled Senate met at 4 p.m. to vote on Trump’s fate
Romney acknowledged he could lose his next election campaign over this but said losing the presidency was the worst thing that had ever happened to him so he was at peace with his decision.
He noted, too, that his life in Washington D.C. was about to get ‘lonely.’
READ THE ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT AGAINST DONALD TRUMP
In 1,414 words, the articles of impeachment passed by the House of Representatives lay out two charges against President Donald Trump.
Article I: Abuse of Power
Using the powers of his high office, President Trump solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 United States Presidential election.
He did so through a scheme or course of conduct that included soliciting the Government of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations that would benefit his reelection, harm the election prospects of a political opponent, and influence the 2020 United States Presidential election to his advantage.
President Trump also sought to pressure the Government of Ukraine to take these steps by conditioning official United States Government acts of significant value to Ukraine on its public announcement of the investigations.
President Trump engaged in this scheme or course of conduct for corrupt purposes in pursuit of personal political benefit. In so doing, President Trump used the powers of the Presidency in a manner that compromised the national security of the United States and undermined the integrity of the United States democratic process.’
Article II: Obstruction of Congress
As part of this impeachment inquiry, the Committees undertaking the investigation served subpoenas seeking documents and testimony deemed vital to the inquiry from various Executive Branch agencies and offices, and current and former officials.
In response, without lawful cause or excuse, President Trump directed Executive Branch agencies, offices, and officials not to comply with those subpoenas. President Trump thus interposed the powers of the Presidency against the lawful subpoenas of the House of Representatives, and assumed to himself functions and judgments necessary to the exercise of the ‘sole Power of Impeachment’ vested by the Constitution in the House of Representatives.
In the history of the Republic, no President has ever ordered the complete defiance of an impeachment inquiry or sought to obstruct and impede so comprehensively the ability of the House of Representatives to investigate ‘high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
This abuse of office served to cover up the President’s own repeated misconduct and to seize and control the power of impeachment — and thus to nullify a vital constitutional safeguard vested solely in the House of Representatives.
‘It’s going to get very lonely. The consequences are significant. They are enough that it made it very difficult process for me. There’s not been a morning since this process began that I slept beyond 4:00 a.m.,’ he said.
‘Well, a friend of mine once said that the worst thing that ever happened to them politically had already happened. The worst thing that already happened me politically was losing the presidency in 2012. I have broad enough shoulders to be able to weather personal changes in my career, political or otherwise. What I don’t have is the capacity to ignore my conscience,’ he added.
Adam Schiff, the lead House impeachment manager for the Democrats, praised Romney’s decision.
‘Having proven Trump guilty, I asked if there was just one Republican Senator who would say “enough.” Who would stand up against this dangerously immoral president. Who would display moral courage. Who would do impartial justice as their oath required and convict. And there is,’ he wrote on Twitter.
Ahead of the vote there was the question of whether any Democratic senators would break party lines and vote to acquit the president.
Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Doug Jones of Alabama all hail from states Trump won in 2016 and retains strong popularity.
But Jones said Wednesday morning he will vote to convict the president on both counts of impeachment.
‘After many sleepless nights, I have reluctantly concluded that the evidence is sufficient to convict the President for both abuse of power and obstruction of Congress,’ he said in a statement.
Sinema and Manchin announced shortly before the vote they would vote to convict on both articles.
‘Today, I vote to approve both articles, as my highest duty, and my greatest love, is to our nation’s Constitution,’ Sinema said in a statement.
‘I reach this conclusion reluctantly,’ Manchin said in a statement. ‘I take no pleasure in these votes.’
Manchin proposed censuring Trump – a move that would let the Senate express its disapproval of his actions in the Ukraine without formally removing the president from office.
Several Republican senators have said they don’t approve of Trump’s actions but don’t find them to rise to the level of an impeachable offense.
Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska criticized the president on the Senate floor Monday night but said she would vote for his acquittal when the chamber votes on a verdict in his trial.
‘The president’s behavior was shameful and wrong. His personal interests do not take precedent over those of this great nation,’ she said.
The White House on Tuesday dismissed the censure idea, arguing the president has done nothing wrong.
‘The answer to that is no because the president did nothing wrong,’ deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidley told reporters at the White House.
Trump, in a July 25 phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, asked him to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden. The president said this was out of concern for corruption in that country – Hunter Biden at the time sat on the board of a powerful Ukrainian gas company. Democrats claim he was trying to get a foreign government to help him win re-election.
As for senators, they are scheduled to leave town after the vote and won’t return to Washington D.C. until next week.
The vote may end the impeachment trial but it’s not likely to ease tensions between Republicans and Democrats, which were on full display Tuesday night during the State of the Union Address.
House impeachment managers Adam Schiff, Jerrold Nadler, Zoe Lofgren, Hakeem Jeffries, and Val Demings sat together at State of the Union address
Adam Schiff hugs Nancy Pelosi before the speech began
The bitter feud between President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi boiled over during the speech, with Trump snubbing her outstretched hand and Pelosi ripping apart a copy of his remarks behind his back.
Trump delivered the astonishing snub to Pelosi as he started his speech by ignoring her as she offered him a handshake, which set the tone for a full-throated condemnation of his political enemies and his presidential predecessors in front of a divided Congress.
He simply turned away as the Speaker took her copy of his speech, then stood in front of a chamber which echoed with cries of ‘four more years’ from Republicans.
That moment set the tone for the rest of the night and was reflective of the atmosphere in Washington since September, when Pelosi announced the House would formally open an impeachment investigation into the president.
Timeline of Donald Trump’s impeachment
The impeachment trial for Donald Trump will come to a close this afternoon, with the President’s guaranteed acquittal.
Here is a breakdown of the key events leading up to the historic trial:
July 18: In a call with national-security officials, a staff member of the White House Office of Management and Budget announces there’s a freeze on Ukraine aid, based on a presidential order to the budget office.
July 25: Trump has the infamous phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which he asks for Zelensky’s help in gathering potentially damaging information about his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.
That night, a staff member at the White House Office of Management and Budget signs a document that officially puts military aid for Ukraine on hold.
Between July 25 and August 12: An unidentified CIA officer files a complaint with the agency alleging misconduct during the president’s July 25 call, according to a person familiar with the matter.
August 12: A whistleblower complaint bearing this date and intended for Congress states: ‘In the course of my official duties, I have received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.’ The complaint is addressed to Sen. Richard Burr and Rep. Adam Schiff. It does not reach them until Sept. 25.
August 14: The whistleblower’s original complaint is brought up by Courtney Simmons Elwood, general counsel for the CIA, during a call involving U.S. national security officials.
August 26: The IG for the intelligence community sends a letter to the acting director of national intelligence informing him the IG’s office has received a complaint addressed to Congress of ‘urgent concern’ about a call between Trump and Zelensky. The inspector general says he believes the conversation could have amounted to a federal campaign finance crime.
August 28: Politico reports that the military aid to Ukraine is on hold, setting off a scramble among diplomats in Ukraine and the United States.
September 3: The Justice Department’s office of legal counsel sends a memorandum to a lawyer at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, finding that the ‘alleged misconduct does not involve any member of the intelligence community’ and concludes that the complaint does not meet the statutory requirement as a matter of ‘urgent concern’ that would require it to be forwarded to Congress.
September 9: The IG for the intelligence community sends a letter to Schiff and Devin Nunes about the whistleblower’s complaint.
September 11: The White House informs lawmakers that it is releasing $250 million in military aid to Ukraine.
September 19: Michael Atkinson testifies behind closed doors to members of the House Intelligence Committee about the whistleblower’s complaint.
The president begins responding to published reports about his phone call.
September 24: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces the House is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry, saying, ‘No one is above the law.’
September 25: The White House releases a rough transcript of the president’s July 25 call with Zelensky. The whistleblower’s complaint is also transmitted to Congress.
September 26: The House Intelligence Committee releases a redacted version of the whistleblower complaint.
October 31: The Democratic-controlled House votes 232-196 to pass a resolution setting procedures for the impeachment inquiry.
November 13: House Intelligence Committee opens two weeks of public hearings with foreign service officials and political appointees who testify about efforts by Trump and others to pressure Ukraine to investigate Trump’s political rivals.
December 3: A 300-page report prepared by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee finds ‘serious misconduct’ by the president.
December 4: The House Judiciary Committee holds its first hearing in the impeachment inquiry.
December 5: Pelosi announces that she has asked the relevant House committee chairs to begin drawing up articles of impeachment against Trump, saying his actions left them ‘no choice’ but to act swiftly.
December 10: Pelosi announces two articles of impeachment against Trump, for abuse of power and for obstruction of justice, over charges he threatened the integrity of U.S. elections and endangered national security in his dealings with Ukraine.
December 13: House Judiciary Committee approves two articles of impeachment against Trump, sending them to the full House.
December 18: House passes the two articles of impeachment against Trump.
Late December – early January 2020: Emails are released that show talks within the White House that sparked concern in the Pentagon, saying the hold on the military aid was breaking the law.
January 7: Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell calls for Pelosi to deliver the articles of impeachment against Trump to the Senate.
January 15: The articles of impeachment are delivered to the Senate, marking the third time a US president had an impeachment trial.
January 22: House prosecutors have their opening arguments.
January 24: House prosecutors wrap their opening arguments, as audio leaks of Trump telling his associates he wants to ‘get rid of’ the US’s ambassador to Ukraine.
January 25: Trump’s defense team, including lawyers Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr, begin its opening arguments.
January 26: Bombshell report from John Bolton’s new book reveals Bolton claims Trump confirmed the Ukraine quid pro quo, launching a new demand for witnesses to be allowed in the trial.
January 28: Trump’s defense team wraps its opening arguments.
February 1: The Senate voted in quick order to block Democratic calls for new witnesses and documents. The 51-49 vote all but ensures Trump’s acquittal when senators answer the final impeachment roll call on Wednesday.
February 3: Both sides have their closing arguments.
The House Democratic prosecutors drew on the Founding Fathers and common sense to urge senators — and Americans — to see that Trump’s actions are not isolated but a pattern of behavior that, left unchecked, will allow him to ‘cheat’′ in the 2020 election.
Trump’s defense countered the Democrats have been out to impeach Trump since the start of his presidency, nothing short of an effort to undo the 2016 election and to try to shape the next one.
Source: Associated Press, Reuters