The Senate on Wednesday acquitted President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, capping the third impeachment trial in U.S. history as the 2020 race for the White House kicks into high gear.
With the Senate controlled by Trump’s Republican Party and 67 votes required to remove him from office, the president’s acquittal was long expected by investors SPX, +1.13%. But the monthslong drama helped to supercharge an already-heated political battle as Trump and Democrats cast their eye toward November’s elections.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives in December backed the articles of impeachment, charging that Trump abused his power by withholding aid to Ukraine to pressure the country to announce investigations that could benefit him politically. Democrats also charged Trump with obstructing Congress’s probe by instructing his top advisers to defy subpoenas.
Senators voted 52 to 48 to acquit Trump on the abuse charge, and 53 to 47 on obstruction.
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney was the sole Republican to break with his party, joining all Democrats in voting “guilty” for the first article. The 2012 GOP presidential nominee called Trump “guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust” before voting. Romney became the first senator in history to vote for convicting a president of his own party.
Trump denied wrongdoing, calling the impeachment effort a hoax. As impeachment managers argued their case during the trial, Trump’s attorneys defended him by saying Democrats had not proven it. Trump lawyer Alan Dershowitz argued that even if the president had undertaken a quid pro quo, it wouldn’t be impeachable.
With the impeachment saga closed, Democrats plan to continue investigating Trump. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said Wednesday that Democrats “will likely” subpoena John Bolton, the former national security adviser, who claims in a forthcoming book that Trump told him he wanted to tie Ukraine aid to an investigation of the Bidens.
Trump, meanwhile, is pivoting toward his re-election campaign as Democrats compete in early nominating states like Iowa and New Hampshire.
He went on the attack against Democrats in his Tuesday-night State of the Union speech, blasting the “Medicare for All” plans favored by Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and touted low U.S. unemployment and the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement.
Trump did not mention impeachment in his speech. But his visible rift with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was seen tearing up a copy of his address, suggested there is little appetite for cooperation on issues including infrastructure IFRA, +1.65% and lowering drug prices PJP, +2.23% before the election.