Last year, Donald Trump became the third president in U.S. history to be impeached by the House of Representatives. Today, he became the third president to have the charges of impeachment acquitted by the U.S. Senate.
Mostly along party lines, with only Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) breaking from the Republicans on the first vote, the Senate acquitted Trump.
On the first article of impeachment, 48 senators pronounced the president guilty and 52 pronounced him not guilty.
On the second article of impeachment, 47 senators pronounced the president guilty and 53 pronounced him not guilty.
Texas Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz voted against the impeachment and in favor of acquittal.
“The question all senators have to answer is did the president commit, in the words of the Constitution, ‘a high crime and misdemeanor’ that warrants his removal from office, or should he be acquitted of the charges made by the House?” said Cornyn during a speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday.
“I’ve done my best to listen intently to both sides as they presented their cases during the trial, and I’m confident in saying that President Trump should be acquitted and not removed from office.”
The articles filed against the president by the House were on the grounds of “Abuse of Power” and “Obstruction of Congress.”
In the first article, the House claimed that Trump had withheld foreign aid to pressure Ukrainian officials into investigating corruption as it related to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.
It claimed that the investigations prompted by Trump were “for his personal political benefit.”
The second article contended that the president “directed Executive Branch agencies, offices, and officials not to comply with” subpoenas related to the House impeachment inquiry.
After passing the articles of impeachment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) refused to deliver the articles to the Senate, arguing that she first wanted to know how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) would manage a trial.
The standoff between the two leaders ended when Pelosi announced that she would send the articles to the Senate on January 15, some 28 days after the House vote.
On January 22, the Senate passed rules for the impeachment trial, providing for 24 hours of arguments each from the House of Representatives and the White House, followed by 16 hours of questions from senators.
After the questioning period ended on the evening of Thursday, January 30, four hours were divided equally among the parties to debate whether the Senate should subpoena more witnesses and documents for the trial.
Joined by a few Republicans, Democrats in the Senate have argued for more witnesses and documents, including former National Security Advisor John Bolton and the unpublished manuscript of his forthcoming book about his tenure in the Trump administration.
According to a New York Times report, Bolton’s book says that in August of 2019, the president “wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens.”
A number of Republicans have argued that Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to conduct an investigation into the Biden family is not an impeachable offense.
“[T]here is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven and that does not meet the United States Constitution’s high bar for an impeachable offense,” stated retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN). “Even if the House charges were true, they do not meet the Constitution’s ‘treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors’ standard for an impeachable offense.”
Last Friday, the Senate rejected the motion to call more witnesses.
While all Democratic senators as well as Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Mitt Romney (R-UT) voted in favor of hearing more testimonies, a Republican majority of 51 blocked the vote.
Without a two-thirds majority of the Senate voting to convict President Trump, he has been acquitted of the charges of impeachment levied against him by House Democrats.
“This was a partisan impeachment and we are right now in an election year. The voters are voting and it is up to the voters to decide which policies they want to continue,” said Sen. Cruz on Tuesday.
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.