After months of investigations, testimony, and evidence, the U.S. Senate ended the impeachment process of President Donald J. Trump initiated by the Democratic-majority House of Representatives almost five months ago.
The process was prompted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the committee conclusions that found enough evidence to charge the president with abuse of power after a whistleblower reported a phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky in July 2019.
Despite the White House’s stonewalling, the House was able to obtain testimony and sufficient evidence to prove that Trump would have withheld Congressionally approved economic aid for Ukraine’s fight against Russian interference in its territory, in exchange for the announcement of investigations against former vice president and now presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Based on this, Pelosi’s decision was to submit two articles of impeachment to a vote on the floor of the House, one for abuse of power and the other for obstruction of Congress, which were approved by a large majority, and subsequently passed to the Senate for formal trial proceedings.
The first article, POLITICO reported, failed 48-52, with only one Republican vote: that of Utah Senator Mitt Romney. The second also failed 47-53.
“I am sure to hear abuse from the president and his supporters,” Romney said. “Does anyone seriously believe I would consent to these consequences other than from an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me?”
For their part, all Democratic senators voted to convict Trump on both counts.
“The Senate, having tried Donald Trump, president of the United States, upon two articles of impeachment exhibited against him by the House of Representatives, and two-thirds of the senators present not having found him guilty of the charges contained therein: it is, therefore, ordered and adjudged that the said Donald John Trump be, and he is hereby, acquitted of the charges in said articles,” said Chief Justice Roberts, who presided over the procedure.
Although the symbolism of Republican “exoneration” may play in the president’s favor during his reelection year — a Gallup poll already determined Trump’s “personal best” approval rate of 49% before the Senate vote — there are those who believe the damage is much deeper.
For Senate Democratic minority leader Chuck Schumer, “The verdict of this kangaroo court will be meaningless. By refusing the facts — by refusing witnesses and documents — the Republican majority has placed a giant asterisk, the asterisk of a sham trial, next to the acquittal of President Trump, written in permanent ink.”
Echoing the words of Representative Adam Schiff during his oral argument in the Senate: “If we do not confront this danger today, we will write the history of our decline with our own hand,” he said. “If we don’t stand up to this peril today, we will write the history of our decline with our own hand. If President Trump is not held to account, we send the message to future presidents, future congresses and generations of Americans that the personal interests of the president can fairly take precedent over those of the nation.”