Trump gloats over ‘vic­tory’

IM­PEACH­MENT TRIAL: US PRES­I­DENT CLEARED

The Citizen (KZN) - - World - Wash­ing­ton

US Se­nate, as ex­pected, votes not guilty on both charges.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump was ac­quit­ted by the US Se­nate on Wed­nes­day fol­low­ing a his­toric im­peach­ment trial that shone a harsh light on Amer­ica’s di­vi­sions, with­out ever shak­ing the loy­alty of his voter base.

In a po­lit­i­cal tri­umph for the US leader, Trump drew on staunch Repub­li­can sup­port to eas­ily de­feat a Demo­cratic ef­fort to ex­pel him from of­fice for pres­sur­ing Ukraine to help bol­ster his re-elec­tion ef­fort.

The pres­i­dent im­me­di­ately claimed “vic­tory” while the White House de­clared it a full “ex­on­er­a­tion” – and Democrats re­jected the ac­quit­tal as the “val­ue­less” out­come of an un­fair trial.

But the vote in the Se­nate showed just how solid a grip the for­mer real es­tate mogul holds over the Repub­li­can Party – an as­set nine months be­fore he seeks a sec­ond four-year term.

Even though sev­eral con­ceded Trump’s be­hav­iour was wrong, Repub­li­cans ul­ti­mately stayed loyal in vot­ing to clear the pres­i­dent of charges of abuse of power, by 52 to 48, and of ob­struc­tion of Congress, by 53 to 47 – far from the two-thirds ma­jor­ity re­quired for con­vic­tion.

“Two-thirds of the sen­a­tors present not hav­ing found him guilty of the charges con­tained therein, it is there­fore or­dered and ad­judged that the said Don­ald John Trump be, and he is hereby, ac­quit­ted,” said Supreme Court Chief Jus­tice John Roberts, who presided over the trial.

One Repub­li­can, Se­na­tor Mitt Rom­ney, a long-time Trump foe, risked White House wrath to vote along­side Democrats on the first count, say­ing Trump was “guilty of an ap­palling abuse of pub­lic trust”. He voted not guilty on the sec­ond charge.

Trump’s im­peach­ment and trial will leave a per­ma­nent stain on his record, as it did for the only two pres­i­dents to have en­coun­tered the same fate, An­drew John­son in 1868 and Bill Clin­ton in 1998.

But the Se­nate ver­dict was never truly in ques­tion since the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives for­mally im­peached Trump in De­cem­ber, and it has now cleared out a ma­jor hur­dle for the pres­i­dent to fully plunge into his cam­paign for re-elec­tion in Novem­ber.

Trump had ear­lier tweeted a mon­tage de­pict­ing a fake cover of Time mag­a­zine declar­ing him pres­i­dent for all eter­nity. Trump later tweeted a video at­tack­ing Rom­ney, the first se­na­tor in US his­tory to sup­port con­vict­ing a pres­i­dent from his own party.

While the White House de­clared that Trump had ob­tained “full vin­di­ca­tion and ex­on­er­a­tion”, Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, warned that by clear­ing Trump, Repub­li­cans had “nor­malised law­less­ness”.

“There can be no ac­quit­tal with­out a trial, and there is no trial with­out wit­nesses, doc­u­ments and ev­i­dence,” said the top Demo­crat in Congress – who a day ear­lier ripped up her copy of Trump’s State of the Union ad­dress on live tele­vi­sion.

“Sadly, be­cause of the Repub­li­can Se­nate’s be­trayal of the con­sti­tu­tion, the pres­i­dent re­mains an on­go­ing threat to Amer­i­can democ­racy, with his in­sis­tence that he is above the law. – AFP

Pic­ture: Reuters

NOT GUILTY. US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump was cleared of two charges af­ter his im­peach­ment trial on Wed­nes­day.

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