After two weeks of impeachment proceedings, on Wednesday, Feb. 5, the U.S. Senate voted to acquit President Donald Trump on both counts in his impeachment trial. Trump had been impeached on two counts: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Forty-eight senators supported a verdict of guilty on Article I, abuse of power, with 52 voting not guilty. Forty-seven senators supported a verdict of guilty on Article II, obstruction of Congress, with 53 voting not guilty. In order to convict Trump on either Article I or Article II, the Senate would have had to have reached 67 votes in favor of finding Trump guilty on each count in order to remove him from office.
After a divisive two-week process, votes for and against Trump’s removal from office adhered relatively closely to party lines. However, Sen. Mitt Romney, a Republican from Utah, voted in favor of convicting and removing Trump on Article I. Romney went on to acknowledge that he felt compelled by the oath he swore in Trump’s case to act on his conviction that the president’s actions were grievously wrong and expects to be denounced by the party in the fallout of the proceedings. Romney is the first senator to vote against his party during an impeachment proceeding.
In a statement to NBC, Stephanie Grisham, the press secretary of the White House, noted that the outcome marks “full vindication and exoneration” for Trump.
“This entire effort by the Democrats was aimed at overturning the results of the 2016 election and interfering with the 2020 election,” Grisham said, after referring to Romney as a failed Republican presidential candidate.
In an op-ed penned to the Washington Post after the proceedings, the seven Democratic House impeachment managers defended the necessity for the impeachment proceedings. Reps. Adam Schiff of California, Jerrold Nadler of New York, Zoe Lofgren of California, Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Val Demings of Florida, Sylvia Garcia of Texas and Jason Crow of Colorado were nominated as the Democratic House managers during the impeachment trial of President Trump.
“Over the past two weeks, we have argued the impeachment case against President Trump, presenting overwhelming evidence that he solicited foreign interference to cheat in the next election and jeopardized our national security by withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in security assistance to pressure Ukraine to do his political bidding. When the president got caught and his scheme was exposed, he tried to cover it up and obstruct Congress’s investigation in an unprecedented fashion. As the trial progressed, a growing number of Republican senators acknowledged that the House had proved the president’s serious misconduct,” the representatives wrote. “Republican leadership in the Senate had the power to conceal the president’s full misconduct during the trial by disallowing witnesses and documents, but they cannot keep the full, ugly truth of the president’s conduct, and that of all the president’s men, from the American people. Not for long.”
The op-ed references the vote from the previous week’s proceedings, in which Republicans voted down the motion to introduce key witnesses, such as former national security advisor John Bolton. The Senate had voted on Friday, Jan. 31, on whether to invite witnesses and corresponding documents with 51 Republicans voting against introducing witnesses. Two senators, Sens. Romney and Susan Collins of Maine, crossed the aisle and voted in favor of allowing witnesses. However, Sen. Collins did not step across the aisle during the vote for conviction or acquittal.
In a statement to the press, Collins stated that she felt as though Trump would learn from his trial, but later rescinded the quote, saying that “her belief that President Trump had learned a lesson from impeachment” may not be correct.
“That may be aspirational,” Collins later said.
She also defended her vote in favor of acquittal, saying that she felt she had done her duty.
“I think it’s important to understand that when you’re in an impeachment trial, you consider the evidence that is before you,” Collins noted. “You don’t try to make predictions. You consider the evidence that’s before you. In this case, the evidence did not meet the high bar that’s established by the Constitution for immediate removal of the president from office. So that was the basis for my decision.”
Following the impeachment proceedings, Trump fired three witnesses. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a key witness, was ousted on Friday afternoon, followed by his twin brother Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman some 15 minutes later. Trump also dismissed Gordon Sondaland, who had acted as the U.S. ambassador to the European Union. Democrats and Republicans have noted that these firings seem indicative of retaliatory action, and have voiced disapproval.