Donald Trump has been found not guilty by the US Senate on two impeachment charges, as only the third impeachment trial in American history reached a conclusion.
Senators voted 52 to 48 to acquit Trump on the charge of abuse of power. Only one Republican voted against. A second vote on obstruction of Congress also failed to find him guilty, by 53 votes to 47 – exactly in line with the Republican majority over the Democrats in the Senate.
The numbers were always going to be well short of the two-thirds support necessary to convict the president and remove him from office.
Wednesday’s proceedings bring to an end five months of proceedings launched by the House of Representatives, with the voting reflecting the national divide over the Trump presidency.
A lone Republican figure to vote to convict the president was former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the Senator for Utah. During a speech on the Senate floor he said Trump was guilty of “an appalling abuse of public trust”.
Romney voted on the first article of impeachment, which charged Trump with abuse of power – but said he would not convict on the second which charged him with obstruction of Congress.
As the outcome of the vote appeared inevitable, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer condemned a “sham trial”.
“The verdict of this kangaroo court will be meaningless,” the Democrat said.
But the Senate majority leader, Republican Mitch McConnell, said “this partisan impeachment will end today”, accusing Democrats of refusing to accept the 2016 presidential election result.
Democrats argued that the president abused power like no other in history by putting pressure on Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden ahead of the 2020 election.
They gave details of a campaign of shadow diplomacy run by Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani. The president temporarily halted US aid to Ukraine after asking his counterpart in the country for a “favour” in a phone call last July.
Then, when the House investigated his actions, Trump instructed aides in the White House to defy congressional subpoenas – leading to the obstruction charge.
Democrats argued that the Senate should hear from additional witnesses with firsthand knowledge of Trump’s conduct towards Ukraine, including the president’s former national security adviser John Bolton.
On Tuesday, the eve of the vote, Donald Trump did not mention impeachment when he gave his State of the Union address. He is certain to try to use the tally as vindication, a political anthem in his re-election bid for the White House later this year. – Euronews.