Donald Trump Has Been Acquitted Of All Impeachment Charges
The historic impeachment trial of US President Donald Trump has drawn to a close – ending with his acquittal of all charges.
Through months upon months of investigation, arguments and debate, the final result comes as a deafening sign of support from the Republican majority Senate.
His acquittal comes after his State of the Union address, invoking the ‘strong economy’ as a reason to move past impeachment. Afterwards, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tore up a copy of Trump’s prepared remarks.
The House of Representatives, led by a Democratic party majority, advanced charges of abuse of power and obstructing Congress in December last year, kick-starting a Senate trial process that held the keys to his removal from office.
On article one of impeachment (regarding abuse of power), senators voted 48 guilty to 52 not guilty. On the second article (regarding treason), senators voted 47 guilty to 53 not guilty.
Trump was impeached for abusing his presidential power in a quid pro quo with Ukraine, dangling military aid and a White House meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky in exchange for the country launching a corruption inquiry into Joe Biden and his family – a leading Democrat candidate.
He also faced an obstruction of Congress charge due to his failure to comply and cooperate in impeachment proceedings in which no witnesses were called to testify. Across the breadth of the trial, the House provided 28,578 pages of evidence, including 17 depositions of current and former government officials. Senators asked 180 questions of House managers as well as Trump’s defence team.
In order for Trump to be stripped of his presidency, two thirds of senators would have had to vote to convict Trump on the charges – subsequently, Vice President Mike Pence would have taken office.
However, it was never likely, as the Senate is controlled by the Republicans. Within the GOP, Trump has high approval ratings and a strong hold on party infrastructure. Mitt Romney was the only Republican to cross party lines, voting with the Democrats on the first article of impeachment.
As per USA Today, White House counsel Pat Cipollone said:
We have an impeachment that is purely partisan and political. It’s opposed by bipartisan members of the House. It is wrong.
There is only one answer to that, and the answer is to reject those articles of impeachment, to have confidence in the American people, to have confidence in the result of the upcoming election, to have confidence and respect for the last election and not throw it out.
It would have been a shock if Republicans voted to remove their own party leader from office – if anything, it’ll solidify and justify Trump’s defiance of impeachment proceedings in the voters’ eyes prior to the election in 2020.
As Republican Marco Rubio said in a statement: ‘Just because actions meet a standard of impeachment does not mean it is in the best interest of the country to remove a President from office… I will not vote to remove the President because doing so would inflict extraordinary and potentially irreparable damage to our already divided nation.’
Congress has yet to remove a president via the impeachment process. While two previous leaders have been impeached by the House – Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998 – on both occasions, the Senate has acquitted.
Richard Nixon – who resigned under the nationwide weight of the Watergate scandal – is the only president to truly court with the possibility of being ousted by the House and Senate.
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