United States President Donald Trump was on Wednesday cleared in his impeachment trial by the Senate. The Senate voted 52-48 to acquit him on charges of abuse of power and 53-47 on obstruction of Congress.
A two-thirds majority in the 100-seat chamber was needed to remove Trump. The Republicans control the Senate 53–47. “Two-thirds of the senators present not having pronounced him guilty, the Senate adjudges that respondent Donald John Trump, President of the United States, is not guilty as charged,” said Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who presided over the trial, according to AFP.
Mitt Romney of Utah was the only Republican senator to vote in favour of convicting Trump on the first charge of abuse of power. He choked up on the Senate floor when he explained his decision to convict the president. He said Trump had been “guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust” and “a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security and our fundamental values”.
In December, Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives on charges of abuse of power and for obstructing Congress, as he was formally accused of pressuring Ukraine to investigate Democratic Party leader Joe Biden – a leading contender for his party’s presidential nomination – while using as leverage a nearly $400-million package of military assistance.
Trump, who has always denied any wrongdoing, said he would comment about the case on Thursday. “I will be making a public statement tomorrow at 12:00 pm from the White House to discuss our Country’s VICTORY on the Impeachment Hoax!,” he tweeted. Trump is only the third US president ever to have faced impeachment trial. The trial may have repercussions for Trump’s re-election bid in November.
After the historic vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had launched the impeachment trial, said Trump remains “an ongoing threat to American democracy” and that Senate Republicans had “normalised lawlessness”. Other Democrat lawmakers also expressed reservations. “No doubt, the president will boast he received total exoneration,” said New York senator Chuck Schumer, according to BBC. “But we know better.”