On the charge of abuse of power, Senate members found Trump not guilty in a vote of 52-48. On the second charge of obstruction of Congress, the vote was 53-47 in favor of acquittal. A two-thirds majority was required to convict.
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Though he voted to acquit Trump on the charge of obstruction of Congress, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney broke from his party by voting to convict Trump for abuse of power. Romney announced his decision to vote for conviction on the Senate floor Wednesday.
According to the Associated Press, Romney called Trump’s actions “perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of oath of office that I can imagine.”
While some GOP senators said they could not condone Trump’s actions, many intended to move forward with voting to acquit the president. Sen. Lamar Alexander was perhaps the most vocal, AP reports, saying he did not need to hear more evidence to conclude that Trump was wrong to ask a foreign leader to investigate a rival.
“But,” said Alexander, “the Constitution does not give the Senate the power to remove the president from office and ban him from this year’s ballot simply for actions that are inappropriate.”
Similarly, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican whose opinions have been closely watched because of her centrist reputation, issued a five-paragraph statement Friday opposing witnesses, though she mentioned no support of Trump or his actions.
“Given the partisan nature of this impeachment from the very beginning and throughout, I have come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate,” Murkowski said. “I don’t believe the continuation of this process will change anything.”
The vote brings to a close nearly five months of proceedings during which Trump was formally impeached last month on charges that he abused his power like no other president, jeopardizing Ukraine and U.S.-Ukraine relations. Democrats said Trump asked the vulnerable ally to investigate Joe Biden and debunked theories of 2016 election interference, withholding American security aid to the country as it battled Russia at its border.
The second article of impeachment says Trump then obstructed the House probe in a way that threatened the nation’s three-branch system of checks and balances.
The trial kicked off with House impeachment managers delivering 24 hours of opening arguments across three days. Closing out their case, House Democrats warned that the president would persist in abusing his power and endangering American democracy unless Congress intervened to remove him before the 2020 election.
Trump’s legal team last week concluded its three-day presentation as they started it — arguing that the Democrats’ case amounted to partisan politics that would undo the results of the 2016 presidential election and drive Trump from office.
Trump’s lawyers argued forcefully against calling former national security adviser John Bolton as a witness, saying his yet-to-be-published manuscript contains unproven allegations that would be “inadmissible” during a typical trial.
As the defense used less than half its allotted 24 hours of argument, White House counsel Pat Cipollone said the impeachment trial “should end now, as quickly as possible.”
On Friday, the Senate voted to reject calling additional witnesses to testify in the impeachment trial of Trump, ensuring the trial would be the first without witnesses in American history. The decision all but ensured Trump’s acquittal.