AC­QUIT­TED

Sen. Mitt Rom­ney of Utah de­nies Trump unan­i­mous GOP sup­port in re­moval vote

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - FRONT PAGE - By Lisa Mas­caro and Mary Clare Jalonick

WASH­ING­TON >> Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump won im­peach­ment ac­quit­tal Wed­nes­day in the U.S. Se­nate, bring­ing to a close only the third pres­i­den­tial trial in Amer­i­can his­tory with votes that split the coun­try, tested civic norms and fed the tu­mul­tuous 2020 race for the White House.

With Chief Jus­tice John Roberts pre­sid­ing, sen­a­tors sworn to do “im­par­tial jus­tice” stood and stated their votes for the roll call — “guilty” or “not guilty” — in a swift tally al­most ex­clu­sively along party lines. Trump, the chief jus­tice then de­clared, shall “be, and is hereby, ac­quit­ted of the charges.”

The out­come fol­lowed months of re­mark­able im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings, from Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s House to Mitch Mc­Connell’s Se­nate, re­flect­ing the na­tion’s un­re­lent­ing par­ti­san di­vide three years into the Trump pres­i­dency.

What started as Trump’s re­quest for Ukraine to “do us a fa­vor” spun into a far-reach­ing, 28,000-page re­port com­piled by House in­ves­ti­ga­tors ac­cus­ing an Amer­i­can pres­i­dent of en­gag­ing in shadow diplo­macy that threat­ened U.S. for­eign re­la­tions for per­sonal, po­lit­i­cal gain as he pres­sured the ally to in­ves­ti­gate Demo­cratic ri­val Joe Bi­den ahead of the next elec­tion.

No pres­i­dent has ever been re­moved by the Se­nate.

A po­lit­i­cally em­bold­ened Trump had ea­gerly pre­dicted vin­di­ca­tion, de­ploy­ing the ver­dict as a po­lit­i­cal an­them in his re­elec­tion bid. The pres­i­dent claims he did noth­ing wrong, de­cry­ing the “witch hunt” as an ex­ten­sion of spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s probe into Rus­sian 2016 cam­paign in­ter­fer­ence by those out to get him from the start of his pres­i­dency.

Trump’s po­lit­i­cal cam­paign tweeted videos, state­ments and a car­toon dance cel­e­bra­tion, while the pres­i­dent him­self tweeted that he would speak Thurs­day from the White House about “our Coun­try’s VIC­TORY on the Im­peach­ment Hoax.”

How­ever, the Se­nate Demo­cratic leader Chuck Schumer said there will al­ways be “a gi­ant as­ter­isk next to the pres­i­dent’s ac­quit­tal” be­cause of the Se­nate’s quick trial and Repub­li­cans’ un­prece­dented re­jec­tion of wit­nesses.

A ma­jor­ity of sen­a­tors ex­pressed un­ease with Trump’s pres­sure cam­paign on Ukraine that re­sulted in the two ar­ti­cles of im­peach­ment. But two-thirds of them would have had to vote “guilty” to reach the Con­sti­tu­tion’s bar of high crimes and mis­de­meanors to con­vict and re­move Trump from of­fice. The fi­nal tal­lies in the GOP-held Se­nate fell far short.

On the first ar­ti­cle of im­peach­ment, abuse of power, the vote was 52-48 fa­vor­ing ac­quit­tal. The sec­ond, ob­struc­tion of Congress, also pro­duced a not guilty ver­dict, 53-47.

Only one Repub­li­can, Mitt Rom­ney of Utah, the party’s de­feated 2012 pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee, broke with the GOP.

Rom­ney choked up as he said he drew on his faith and “oath be­fore God” to vote guilty on the first charge, abuse of power. He voted to ac­quit on the sec­ond.

All Democrats found the pres­i­dent guilty on the two charges.

Both Bill Clin­ton in 1999 and An­drew John­son in 1868 drew cross-party sup­port when they were left in of­fice af­ter im­peach­ment tri­als. Richard Nixon re­signed rather than face sure im­peach­ment, ex­pect­ing mem­bers of his own party to vote to re­move him.

Ahead of Wed­nes­day’s vot­ing, some of the most closely watched sen­a­tors took to the Se­nate floor to tell their con­stituents, and the na­tion, what they had de­cided.

In­flu­en­tial GOP Sen. La­mar Alexan­der of Ten­nessee wor­ried a guilty ver­dict would “pour gaso­line on the fire” of the na­tion’s cul­ture wars over Trump and “rip the coun­try apart.’’ He said the House proved its case but it just didn’t rise to the level of im­peach­ment.

Other Repub­li­cans sid­ing with Trump said it was time to end what Mc­Connell called the “cir­cus” and move on.

Most Democrats, though, echoed the House man­agers’ warn­ings that Trump, if left unchecked, would con­tinue to abuse the power of his of­fice for per­sonal po­lit­i­cal gain and try to cheat again ahead of the 2020 elec­tion.

EVAN VUCCI — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump wel­comes Venezue­lan op­po­si­tion leader Juan Guaido to the White House. The Se­nate ac­quit­ted Trump of im­peach­ment charges on Wed­nes­day. On the first ar­ti­cle of im­peach­ment, abuse of power, the vote was 5248 fa­vor­ing ac­quit­tal. The sec­ond, ob­struc­tion of Congress, also pro­duced a not guilty ver­dict, 53-47.

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