The Senate overwhelmingly acquitted President Trump on both articles of impeachment against him Wednesday afternoon following a brief trial, in a historic rejection of Democrats’ claims that the president’s Ukraine dealings and handling of congressional subpoenas merited his immediate removal from office.
Several Congressional Democrats, speaking to Fox News, were dejected on Capitol Hill late Wednesday, even as they said they hoped to weaponize the acquittal votes by several moderate Republicans in swing states.
“We all knew how this was going,” one senior House Democratic source told Fox News. “But everyone’s depressed. Especially because of Iowa,” where the first-in-the-nation caucuses have been plagued by mismanagement.
Another Democratic source also said that impeachment “went as well as it could go.” There was significant consternation among House Democrats about heading down the impeachment road at all over the summer, Fox News is told, but Democratic leaders felt they had to get in front of the impeachment movement and embrace it – or they may have been steamrolled by the progressive wing of the party.
In the final vote, all Democratic senators supported convicting the president of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, including swing-vote moderate Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Doug Jones, D-Ala.
The only party defection was on the abuse of power charge from Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who declared hours before the final vote that Trump had engaged in as “destructive an attack on the oath of office and our Constitution as I can imagine.” Romney voted not guilty on the obstruction charge.
By a final vote of 52-48 against conviction on the abuse of power charge and 53-47 against conviction on the obstruction charge, the Senate fell far short of the two-thirds, 67-vote supermajority needed to convict and remove the president. Swing-vote Republican senators — including Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee — voted to acquit on both counts.
The separate obstruction of Congress charge concerned the White House’s assertion of executive privilege and refusal to comply with congressional subpoenas. Romney explained he would acquit on the obstruction count, saying House Democrats had chosen not to respond to the White House’s legal arguments against the subpoenas.
After Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts formally declared Trump acquitted, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., presented him with the “Golden Gavel” award as a thank-you for his service. Former Chief Justice of the United States William Rehnquist received the same award, which is usually presented to freshmen senators after long hours presiding over the body, for his handling of President Bill Clinton’s 1999 impeachment trial.
“I look forward to seeing you all again under happier circumstances,” Roberts said as he concluded his remarks and prepared to depart the chamber.