President Donald Trump was acquitted as expected in his impeachment trial by the U.S. Senate Wednesday, getting total support from all but one Republican: Utah’s Mitt Romney.
The pair of party-line votes on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice both fell well short of the 67 Senators needed to remove Trump from office. All 52 Republicans voted against conviction on the charge of abuse of power. Only Romney voted for conviction on the charge of obstruction of justice as he hours earlier promised to do.
Romney was the first senator in U.S. history to vote to remove a president of his own party from office.
All 45 Democrats in the Senate, along with two independents who caucus with them, Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, were united in voting for Trump’s conviction of each of the charges.
Minutes after the final tally was recorded, Trump tweeted a declaration of “VICTORY” over the “Impeachment Hoax” on behalf of the entire United Sates. He said he would have more to say Thursday at noon.
The president also shared a meme with his 72 million followers suggesting he would remain in office indefinitely.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 5, 2020
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who worked closely with Trump to manage the impeachment trial, told reporters that the Democrats were about to face the political consequences of a “colossal political mistake.”
“Right now, this is a political loser for them,” McConnell said in a press conference from the Senate. “They initiated it. They thought it was a great idea. At least in short term, it’s a colossal political mistake.”
How Trump was acquitted of impeachment
The votes against impeachment ended a months-long process aimed at ousting Trump which stemmed from an Aug. 12 intelligence community whistleblower complaint.
In the report, an anonymous White House underling raised national security concerns over a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Trump had asked Zelensky to investigate potential Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election and dealings with the country by former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, who served on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings.
House Democrats insisted Trump leveraged $400 million in military aid to Ukraine to get the country to investigate the Bidens in an effort to damage a political opponent. Joe Biden is running for the Democratic nomination for president in the 2020 election.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced in September that six House committees would formally investigate Trump. She accused Trump of betraying his oath of office, national security and the integrity of the U.S. elections.
In December, the Democratic-controlled House voted to impeach Trump. The Judiciary Committee voted 23-17, along party lines, on Dec. 13 to adopt the two articles of impeachment, and the full House followed 230-197 on Article I and 229-198 on Article II five days later.
After insisting the House needed to impeach Trump as quickly as possible so he could be removed from office, Pelosi withheld the articles of impeachment from the Republican-majority Senate for a month in a dispute with the upper chamber about rules and procedure, particularly the calling of witnesses. She finally sent the charges over to the Senate on Jan. 15.
Despite Democratic complaints, the Senate voted not to call any witnesses to testify.
On Jan. 22, the Senate impeachment trial began with the House managers giving their opening statements. Trump’s defense team responded that the president did nothing wrong. They said his request for an investigation was motivated by possible corruption in Ukraine involving American interests and that it certainly wasn’t impeachable.
The impeachment was the second major investigation of Trump, who was probed by independent counsel Robert Mueller about whether his campaign solicited the Russian government to help him defeat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. Mueller’s nearly two-year investigation ended last March with no charges being filed or recommended against Trump.
CORRECTION: A previous version incorrectly stated the number of Democrats in the Senate.
- President Donald Trump.: Screen grab