Donald Trump has been acquitted. After months of accusations, hurled insults, and major party division, the president has been found not guilty on all articles of impeachment. He was originally charged with Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress by the Democratic House Judiciary Committee.
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) February 5, 2020
The vote in the Senate was very much like the vote in the House: completely based on party lines. The only person who did not vote directly on party lines was Utah senator Mitt Romney, who did find Trump guilty on the Abuse of Power count. Romney has been extremely independent from the rest of the Republican party. Although he was the nominee for president back in 2012 (he ran against Obama for the former president’s second term), Romney has remained fully against Trump. He didn’t support Trump’s bid for the presidency in 2016. He voted against Trump again on impeachment day. The Senator told the Atlantic that there was no way he could ignore the heavy amount of evidence which proved that the President pressured Russia to meddle with election data.
As for everyone else, the reactions to Trump’s acquittal were as expected. Lindsey Graham (R- South Carolina) said that he thought the whole process had been a sham. Democratic leaders promised to continue their investigation into Ukraine.
This is the third impeachment in the United States and also the third acquittal. Trump stood at a 48-52 vote for Abuse of Power and a 47-53 vote for Obstruction of Congress.
The architects of this impeachment claimed they were defending norms and traditions. In reality, it was an assault on both. They attacked due process, the office of the presidency, and the Senate’s sole power to try impeachments. pic.twitter.com/3iHVzbTFW7
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) February 5, 2020
Although impeachment has finally come to an end, Trump’s acquittal isn’t shocking. The president needed a senate majority (a 2/3rds margin) to be removed from office, a target he was far from hitting. Based on party lines in the Senate, there was already no chance that Trump would be removed.
In late January, Democrats’ last hopes hinged on allowing for additional witnesses to take part in the impeachment process. Particularly, Democrats hoped John Bolton, the former national security adviser could help their case by providing additional evidence in Trump’s tampering. GOP Senators, who didn’t want to waste more time with additional witnesses, hurried to try and block witnesses from testifying. Democrats only needed a simple majority (51 or more) senators to move forward with more witnesses. They tried to target “swing senators,” or senators up for re-election in 2020. These seven senators, Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Joe Manchin (D- West Virginia), Doug Jones (D- Alabama) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) all would suffer either by voting for or against impeachment.
In the days leading up to the witness vote, Mitch McConnell pulled Lisa Murkowski into his office for a private meeting. At a Q&A session later in the day, he tried to win back Collins, Murkowski, and Romney by answering their questions. McConnell put his best foot forward in blocking the witness call and it worked. In the end, the witness call was blocked by an extremely slim margin: 49-51, with Collins and Romeny voting with the Democrats. Alexander decided that the charges weren’t worth removal and Murkowski (likely after the meeting with McConnell), decided that she didn’t need any more evidence.
After the final push to call for witnesses ended in failure, Trump’s acquittal was practically set in stone.
From there, the final hearing was really just a matter of party loyalty. The three Democratic senators who were considered “swing” because they came from more conservative states were met with hugs after declaring Trump guilty. Collins, Murkowski and Alexander were also met with party approval after their not guilty votes.
Romney was met with jeers from fellow Republicans.
Had failed presidential candidate @MittRomney devoted the same energy and anger to defeating a faltering Barack Obama as he sanctimoniously does to me, he could have won the election. Read the Transcripts!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 6, 2020
However, public reaction has been different from the inside of the house. Utah residents have gathered in doves to support Romney’s decision, while many have bashed the other swing senators. But for the most part, the public was sick of hearing about impeachment.
To many voters in the American public, impeachment had become too much to keep up with. Daily updates weren’t worth following once Trump was pretty much going to stay. Crowds of protestors gathered all around the country, reminding Trump that he wasn’t above the law. Tons more flooded the internet, happy that their president was here to stay.
— Stand Up America (@StandUpAmerica) February 5, 2020
In the long run, the most important thing that Trump’s impeachment and ultimate acquittal teaches us is that division in America is higher than ever before. A trial that should have been dedicated to pursuing justice turned into party bickering and a vote entirely on party lines. But the impeachment is over. It’s finally done.
Featured Image via The Sun @ 10:12