Trump Acquitted By Senate In Impeachment Trial
The impeachment saga from beginning to end
President Donald Trump has been found not guilty in his impeachment trial, ending a bid to remove him from office that bitterly divided the US.
The Senate, run by the president’s fellow Republicans, voted to acquit him 52-48 on charges of abuse of power and 53-47 on obstruction of Congress.
Democrats charged Mr Trump in December with pressuring Ukraine to smear a potential White House rival.
He will now become the first impeached president to seek re-election.
Impeachment allows Congress – the part of the US government that writes and brings in laws – to put presidents on trial.
It is a rare event and a political process, rather than a criminal one.
In its historic vote on Wednesday, the Senate decided not to remove America’s 45th president from office on charges arising from his dealings with Ukraine.
If convicted on either charge, Mr Trump would have had to turn over his office to Vice-President Mike Pence.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives approved the articles of impeachment on 18 December.
The Senate has voted in favour of acquitting President Trump on the impeachment charges
How Will Republicans Vote On Impeachment Charge
While it is unexpected that 17 Republican senators in addition to 50 Democrats will vote to convict Donald Trump, there are a handful of Republicans who could break ranks and vote for conviction.
Senators Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney and Ben Sasse are frequent Trump critics and their earlier impeachment-related votes suggest they could be Republican votes against Trump. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has reportedly told his party that their votes are a vote of conscience, according to The Associated Press news agency, though he told his colleagues on Saturday morning that he will vote to acquit.
Republican Senator Bill Cassidy criticised Trumps defence team after they made their preliminary arguments on Tuesday and made positive comments about the House Democrats presentation. However, Cassidy was spotted on Friday holding notes that appeared to be a draft of a statement indicating he would vote to acquit.
13 Feb 2021 – 15:09 GMT
Its Not At All Clear Where We Are
Melanie Sloan, a former federal prosecutor, said it remains unclear how many witnesses will be called to testify in Trumps trial.
Are there going to be depositions? Are there going to be witnesses who speak before the Senate? I think its not at all clear where we are, Sloan told Al Jazeera, adding she believed no more than five witnesses would be called.
She said Republicans push to call Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a witness is not something that will go well for the party.
That undoubtedly will work to the benefit of the House managers case. Nancy Pelosi also was calling for help throughout the January 6 insurrection, so its hard to see how that works in their favour.
Also Check: How Many Registered Republicans In California
Sign Up To Our World Explained Newsletter
It is not the first time Trump has been impeached by the House of Representatives – the president faced a Senate trial in 2020 for an abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Here’s all you need to know.
Why was Trump impeached the first time?
On 18 December 2019, Trump, the 45th president of the US, was impeached for an abuse of power and obstruction of Congress by the House.
This stemmed from a phone call Trump made to the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, encouraging him to dig up dirt on political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Biden jr worked for a Ukranian energy company when his father was US vice president under Barack Obama.
Trump’s administration was accused of withholding military aid from Ukraine at around that time and a White House meeting for Zelensky.
The House’s judiciary committee said Trump had “betrayed the nation by abusing his high office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections”.
But he was acquitted by the Senate on 5 February 2020, on a near party-line vote. Senator Mitt Romney, a Republican from Utah, was the only one to break party ranks.
What does impeachment mean?
Impeachment, in US politics, is a charge of misconduct made against a public official or president.
It is a political process – not a criminal one – which is the first of a two step action which has the power to remove a current president from office.
The Secret Reason Republicans Wont Impeach Trump
The modern GOP is an un-American party. It is not interested in democracy it is interested in power and it doesnt care how it gets it.
Dustin Chambers/Bloomberg via Getty
Broadly speaking, there are two Republican defenses of Donald Trump. The first is the hard-shell, Lindsey Graham, Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows variant: This is all outrageous, and the real criminals are the Democrats and Jim Comey and the lovely Lisa Page. This defense is what drives these nutso GOP requests to have Hunter Biden appear under oath before the House, which is about as likely as the U.S. Olympic Committee hiring Jordan as its wrestling coach.
The second, soft-shell variant is one youve heard a thousand times: Well, what he did was bad, or a little bad, or maybe not what I would have done but it doesnt rise to the level of being impeachable.
This is the attempt to sound reasonable, far more rational than Graham, who just openly says he wont even read the testimony transcripts. In fact, its not reasonable at all. In its way, its worse than the full Jordan, and more insidious, because in sounding reasonable on the surface it masks the cancer that is eating the Republican Party and has been, in fact, since before Donald Trump ran for president.
That cancer is that this is no longer a small-d democratic party. Its an authoritarian party. And the seemingly reasonable, soft-shell defense of Trump is grounded in that authoritarianism.
READ THIS LIST
Also Check: How To Watch The Patriots Tonight
What Would A Senate Trial Look Like
House members act as the prosecutors the senators as jurors the chief justice of the United States presides.
Historically, the president has been allowed to have defense lawyers call witnesses and request documents.
Beyond that, parameters of the trial are uncertain at this point. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer is pressing for four Trump aides to testify, including Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, and John Bolton, Trumps former national security adviser.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has thrown cold water on that idea, saying House Democrats should have secured the testimony of Bolton and Mulvaney during their investigation.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has delayed sending over the impeachment articles to the Senate in a bid to pressure McConnell. The two sides appear to have made little progress toward an agreement.
Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman Gets Standing Ovation
Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman received a standing ovation Friday during a break of the impeachment trial after it was announced he would receive the Congressional Gold Medal.
Congress’ highest honor is being awarded to Goodman for his actions Jan. 6. He was seen on video during attack leading the mob away from the Senate chamber and to a different area as lawmakers escaped.
Recommended Reading: My Patriot Supply 4 Week
The Former President Remains A Potent Force In Republican Politics
- Potential Legal Peril: From the Justice Departments Jan. 6 inquiry to an investigation in Georgia, Mr. Trump is in legal jeopardy on several fronts.
Im not worried, Mr. Trump said. You dont do anything wrong and you get impeached. That may be a record that will last forever.
But you know what they have done? he said of Democrats. They have cheapened the impeachment process.
Senators, he added, are going to do the right thing.
Icymi: What Else Is Happening In The World
What happens next in the Senate? It looks like a heavy lift.
Joe Biden says he wants to take up Covid relief and confirmations while also allowing lawmakers to fulfill their Constitutional responsibilities on impeachment.
And Biden plans to include a major new benefit for kids in poor and middle class households.
Trump condemned violence in a new video but didnt mention the impeachment vote.
The Capitol riot may be the start not the end of a new evolution of the QAnon movement.
The New York Times profiles Lauren Boebert.
Heres what former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has been charged with in the Flint water crisis.
Read Also: Washington Redskins Vs New England Patriots
Moments After Voting To Acquit Mcconnell Says Trump Was ‘responsible For Provoking’ The Attack
After voting in favor of former President Donald Trump, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., delivered a scathing rebuke of the former president’s actions, a move that appeared at odds with his vote to acquit just moments earlier.
“There’s no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.
“The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president,” he said. “And having that belief was a forceable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories and reckless hyperbole, which the defeated president kept shouting out through the largest megaphone on planet earth.”
Raskin Begins Closing Arguments By Quoting Liz Cheney Saying Trump ‘lit The Flame Of The Attack’
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., began his closing arguments in the trial by quoting what Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., chairwoman of the House GOP Conference, said about the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
Raskin said that the House Democratic managers offered “overwhelming and irrefutable” evidence that Trump “incited this insurrection against us.”
Raskin read Cheney’s statement in wake of the riot.
“The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing. None of this would have happened without the President,” she said. “There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution. I will vote to impeach the President.
You May Like: How To Contact President Trump By Email
Republican Says Trump Showed Lack Of Concern During Riot
During a phone call amid the January 6 US Capitol riot, Trump complained to the Houses top Republican that the mob was more upset than Republican legislators were about the elections outcome.
Republican Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, one of 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump last month, recalled the conversation between Trump and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, saying that Trump had initially said that the left-leaning Antifa movement was responsible for the riot, not Trumps supporters, a claim that has been debunked.
Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,’ Beutler quoted Trump as telling McCarthy.
Trumps Survival After Scandals
More than a year and a half since Trump left office, 58 percent of Americans hold an unfavorable view of him, according to this latest poll. That includes 89 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of independents. But 83 percent of Republicans say they still favor Trump, along with roughly a third of all Americans.
Trumps favorability among the GOP outpaces that of a handful of other Republicans who are considered potential rivals for a White House bid in 2024:
According to GOP strategist and conservative pollster Whit Ayres, most Republicans are also open to having a new candidate who carries less baggage than they believe Trump carries as their nominee in 2024.
It all depends on who the alternatives are, Ayres said. Most alternatives arent nationally known here.
Trumps political resilience is unlike anything else in U.S. presidential history, said Jeffrey Engel, who directs the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
As with everything with Donald Trump, history gives us no guide, Engel said.
One comparison is tough to ignore, though todays political dynamics are nearly opposite. In 1974, after an investigation uncovered that President Richard Nixons reelection campaign had bugged the phones at the Democratic National Committee headquarters, Nixon resigned in disgrace before he could be impeached. He retreated from public life and partially rebuilt his reputation in foreign policy during the decades that followed, Engel said.
Confusion Erupts In Senate Chamber During Vote
As senators cast their vote on whether to begin the process of calling witnesses, the chamber broke out in confused chatter.
Senators, many of whom had entered the chamber just moments earlier with the expectation that the trial would wrap up later this afternoon, looked around the room and to their neighbors with puzzled glances.
Even more confusion broke out after Sen. Lindsey Graham stood up in the well of the chamber and said, Id like to change my vote to AYE.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the judge presiding over the proceeding, called for order several times.
After the vote was called, senators huddled together in small groups appearing to try to make sense of what had just happened.
What Are The Stakes For Pelosi
Apart from declaring war, this is the most important thing that the Congress can do, Pelosi told Time Magazines Molly Ball. Im most proud of the Affordable Care Act. But this is the most serious initiative that Ive been involved in in my career.
More tidbits from Balls juicy new profile:
Regarding nervous Nancy
Pelosi has told colleagues shes had to wear a night guard because the White House makes her grind her teeth in her sleep. But her frustration is born of determination, not unease. In our interview, I asked her if the Presidents nickname for her, Nervous Nancy, is accurate. Pfft, she says, waving a hand. Hes nervous. Everything he says, hes always projecting. He knows the case that can be made against him. Thats why hes falling apart.
But youre not, I ask?
No, she says, her voice steady. Im emboldened.
She got the idea to hold up the trial while watching CNN
Pelosi, according to an aide, had been mulling the tactic since she heard former Nixon White House counsel John Dean float the idea on CNN on Dec. 5.
Recommended Reading: Patriot Trash Service Springfield Mo
Republicans Raise Objections To Democrats Closing Arguments
Twice during the House Democrats closing arguments, Republicans complained that the Democrats were improperly introducing new video evidence.
Both points of order raised by Trumps proponents slowed the trial as the Senate parliamentarian sorted through the issues.
It appears at least one of the points of order was upheld as Senator Patrick Leahy, who is presiding over the trial, announced that evidence, after the first complaint was raised, would be stricken from the record.
13 Feb 2021 – 18:57 GMT
The Presidential Impeachment Process
An impeachment proceeding is the formal process by which a sitting president of the United States is accused of wrongdoing. It is a political process and not a criminal process.
The articles of impeachment are the list of charges drafted against the president. The vice president and all civil officers of the U.S. can also face impeachment.
The process begins in the House of Representatives, where any member may make a suggestion to launch an impeachment proceeding. It is really up to the speaker of the House in practice, to determine whether or not to proceed with an inquiry into the alleged wrongdoing, though any member can force a vote to impeach.
Over 210 House Democrats introduced the most recent article of impeachment on Jan. 11, 2021, contending Trump “demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security, democracy and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law.”
The impeachment article, which seeks to bar Trump from holding office again, also cited Trump’s controversial call with the Georgia Republican secretary of state where he urged him to “find”enough votes for Trump to win the state and his efforts to “subvert and obstruct” certification of the vote.
And it cited the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, noting that it “prohibits any person who has ‘engaged in insurrection or rebellion against’ the United States” from holding office.
You May Like: Menards Patriot Lighting Flush Mount
Where Does The Senate Come In
The Senate is tasked with handling the impeachment trial, which is presided over by the chief justice of the United States in the case of sitting presidents. However, in this unusual case, since Trump is not a sitting president, the largely ceremonial task has been left to the Senate pro tempore, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the chamber’s most senior member of the majority party.
“The president pro tempore has historically presided over Senate impeachment trials of non-presidents,” Leahy said in a statement in January. “When presiding over an impeachment trial, the president pro tempore takes an additional special oath to do impartial justice according to the Constitution and the laws. It is an oath that I take extraordinarily seriously.”
To remove a president from office, two-thirds of the members must vote in favor at present 67 if all 100 senators are present and voting.
If the Senate fails to convict, a president is considered impeached but is not removed, as was the case with both Clinton in 1998 and Andrew Johnson in 1868. In Johnsons case, the Senate fell one vote short of removing him from office on all three counts.
In this trial, since the president has already left office, the real punishment would come if the president were to be convicted, when the Senate would be expected to vote on a motion to ban the former president from ever holding federal office again.