On Wednesday, February 5, 2020, the US Senate acquitted President Donald Trump of charges that he had abused the powers of his office and obstructed Congress as it investigated his attempts to pressure Ukraine for his political gain. The historic decision concludes the lengthy judicial process that began on September 24, 2019, when Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, launched a formal impeachment inquiry into the US president.
The investigation was triggered by allegations that President Trump had asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to look into the business ties of 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's son, Hunter. President Trump had allegedly withheld federal military aid from Ukraine to persuade Zelensky to agree to his request.
The senators voted 48-52 on the first article of impeachment — abuse of power — and 47-53 on the second article — obstruction of Congress. Both were far less than the two-thirds or 67 votes the House prosecutors needed to impeach the President. The 12-day Senate trial was much shorter than President Andrew Johnson's and President Bill Clinton's impeachment trials, which lasted 93 days and 37 days, respectively. It was also the only one to exclude subpoenas for witnesses or documents.
As had been expected, the ballots were largely along political party lines, with Democrats voting in favor and Republicans voting against the impeachment. However, there was one exception. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), the Republican Party's presidential candidate eight years ago, voted to convict the President on the first article of impeachment. He is the first senator in history to vote to remove a president from the same party.
Though disappointed at the loss, House impeachment manager Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) believes Democrats made a strong case in the Senate. "What we were able to do is speak truthfully about this president in a way that resonated with people, whether they like him or didn't like him," he said.
With the time-consuming trial ended, US lawmakers now hope to focus on essential policy items for the remainder of 2020. These include getting an infrastructure or a highway funding bill approved in the Senate as well as other important initiatives that have taken a back seat for the past few weeks.
Resources: LAtimes.com, Washingtonpost.com