The impeachment of President Trump came to a close Wednesday afternoon as the Senate voted largely along party lines to acquit the president on both articles of impeachment and allow him to remain in office.
Senators voted 48-to-52 to acquit Trump on the charge of abuse of power and similarly voted 47-to-53 to acquit him on the charge of obstruction of Congress.
The Republican majority voted in favor of acquittal as a bloc, except for Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, who became the first and only senator to vote to impeach a president in his own party. Senate Democrats, however, were united in their vote to convict the president for both abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Two independents who caucus with Democrats also voted to convict on both articles.
The House voted on December 18 to bring articles of impeachment against the president, making him only the third president in the country’s history to be impeached, along with Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. Afterwards, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi delayed sending the articles to the Senate for weeks, demanding that House Democrats receive assurances from the Senate beforehand that the trial would be “fair.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, denied the speaker’s request to dictate any terms of the Senate process.
Last week, Senate Republicans voted against Democrats not to call witnesses to testify, shortening the trial. The GOP’s plan to reject additional witnesses was briefly thrown into chaos last month when the New York Times reported that former national security adviser John Bolton wrote in his upcoming memoir that President Trump told him specifically that U.S. military aid to Ukraine was contingent on the opening of an investigation into Joe Biden.
House Democrats launched the impeachment inquiry after news broke about a July 25 phone call Trump had with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. During that call, Trump repeatedly asked Zelensky to investigate Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, over allegations that Biden leveraged his position as vice president to benefit his son, who held a lucrative position at a Ukrainian gas company.
The White House temporarily withheld $391 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine intended to help the country ward off Russian aggression, prompting suspicion of a quid pro quo scheme in which Trump is said to have finally released the aid in exchange for the promise that Biden’s conduct would be investigated, an abuse of the president’s power, according to Democrats.
Democrats also accused Trump of subsequently obstructing Congress’s inquiry into the matter by refusing to provide documents lawmakers requested and allow witnesses to testify.
Reprinted with permission from National Review – by Mairead Mcardle