President Donald Trump won impeachment acquittal in the U.S. Senate, bringing to a close only the third presidential trial in American history with votes that split the country, tested civic norms, and fed the tumultuous 2020 race for the White House.
A politically emboldened Trump had eagerly predicted vindication, deploying the verdict as a political victory in his reelection bid.
Trump’s political campaign tweeted videos, statements, and a cartoon dance celebration. The Republican president himself said that he would speak Thursday from the White House about “our Country’s VICTORY on the Impeachment Hoax.”
“I will be making a public statement tomorrow at 12:00pm from the @WhiteHouse to discuss our Country’s VICTORY on the Impeachment Hoax!”
I will be making a public statement tomorrow at 12:00pm from the @WhiteHouse to discuss our Country’s VICTORY on the Impeachment Hoax!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 5, 2020
With Chief Justice John Roberts presiding, senators sworn to do “impartial justice” stood and stated their votes for the roll call — “guilty” or “not guilty” — in a swift tally almost exclusively along party lines. Trump, the chief justice then declared, shall “be, and is hereby, acquitted of the charges.”
The outcome Wednesday followed months of divisive impeachment proceedings, from Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s House to Mitch McConnell’s Senate, and reflected the nation’s unrelenting partisan divide three years into the Trump presidency.
What started as Trump’s request for Ukraine to investigate corruption spun into a far-reaching, 28,000-page report compiled by Democrats accusing an American president of engaging in shadow diplomacy that threatened U.S. foreign relations for political gain.
No president has ever been removed by the Senate.
A majority of senators expressed unease with Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine that resulted in the two articles of impeachment. But two-thirds of them would have had to vote “guilty” to reach the Constitution’s bar of high crimes and misdemeanors to convict and remove Trump from office. The final tallies in the GOP-held Senate fell far short.
For In the first article of impeachment, abuse of power, the vote was 52-48 favoring acquittal. The second, obstruction of Congress, also produced a not guilty verdict, 53-47.
Only one Republican, Mitt Romney of Utah, the party’s defeated 2012 presidential nominee, broke with the GOP.
Romney choked up as he said he drew on his faith and “oath before God” to vote guilty on the first charge, abuse of power. He voted to acquit on the second.
All Democrats found the president guilty on the two charges.
Ahead of Wednesday’s voting, some of the most closely watched senators took to the Senate floor to tell their constituents, and the nation, what they had decided.
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Influential GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee worried a guilty verdict would “pour gasoline on the fire” of the nation’s culture wars over Trump and “rip the country apart.″ He said the House case didn’t rise to the level of impeachment.
Other Republicans siding with Trump said it was time to end what McConnell called the “circus” and move on.
Key Democrats from states where Trump is popular — Doug Jones in Alabama and Joe Manchin in West Virginia — risked backlash and voted to convict.
“Senators are elected to make tough choices,” Jones said.
Several senators trying to win the Democratic Party’s nomination to face Trump — Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-V.T., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. and Amy Klobuchar. D-Minn. — dashed back from early primary state New Hampshire to vote.
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McConnell braced for dissent, but with a 53-47 Republican majority he refuted efforts to prolong the trial with more witnesses, arguing the House should have done a better job.
Roberts, as the rare court of impeachment came to a close, wished senators well in “our common commitment to the Constitution,” and hoped to meet again “under happier circumstances.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo signed off on the Senate judgment later Wednesday. “Tonight, it was my pleasure to sign President @realDonaldTrump’s full acquittal,” he tweeted.
The Associated Press contributed to this article