Trump survives impeachment: US president cleared of both charges
Donald Trump has been acquitted by the Senate of obstructing Congress and abusing the power of his office as president.
The vote brings to an end only the third presidential impeachment trial in US history and comes as the president is in the early days of his re-election campaign.
The Senate voted 52-48 to acquit Mr Trump of abusing his powers and 53-47 of obstructing Congress, meaning the 73-year-old remains in office.
The abuse of power charge stemmed from his request that Ukraine investigate political rival Joe Biden, one of the front runners for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.
The obstruction charge regards an accusation that Mr Trump blocked witnesses and documents sought by the House of Representatives.
Had Mr Trump been convicted of either charge, he would have been removed from office and vice president Mike Pence would have been elevated to the presidency.
Following the result, Mr Trump wrote on Twitter that he would be making a public statement tomorrow “to discuss our country’s victory on the impeachment hoax”.
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The White House described the impeachment process as “another witch-hunt that deprived the president of his due process rights and was based on a series of lies”.
They also called for “retribution” against those Democrats behind the impeachment bid, which they said was “aimed at overturning the results of the 2016 election and interfering with the 2020 election”.
The result was little surprise in the Republican-controlled Senate but Republican Mitt Romney voted against the president on the abuse of powers charge.
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He said: “Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine.
“In the last several weeks I’ve received numerous calls and texts, many demanding that I stand with the team. I can assure you that thought has been very much in mind. You see, I support a great deal of what the president has done.
“I voted with him 80% of the time but my promise before God to apply impartial justice required that I put my personal feelings and political biases aside.
“Were I to ignore the evidence that has been presented and disregard what I believe my oath and the Constitution demands of me for the sake of a partisan end it would, I fear, expose my character to history’s rebuke and the centre of my own conscience.”
Mr Romney voted with his party on the obstruction charge. None of the Democrats voted to acquit the president.
Democrats described the trial – which contained no new evidence or witnesses – a sham but Republican senator Lindsey Graham told his opponents they had “unleashed the partisan forces of hell”.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said: “The architects of this impeachment claimed they were defending norms and traditions. In reality, it was an assault on both.”
Chuck Schumer, the top Senate Democrat, said: “No doubt, the president will boast he received total exoneration. But we know better. We know this wasn’t a trial by any stretch of the definition.”
Sky News US correspondent Amanda Walker said: “The idea of a chastened Trump isn’t getting much buy in – the idea of an emboldened one carries far more weight.
“This was a key part of the democratic impeachment managers’ argument – let him get away with this and who knows what he’ll try and pull off next.
“Donald Trump desperately wants to win the 2020 election. It’s not just about victory for him anymore – it’s about revenge against the party that exposed his behaviour and tried to bring him down.”