Trump acquitted of both impeachment charges by U.S. Senate

WATCH: Trump impeachment trial: Senate votes to acquit on obstruction of Congress charge

The historic impeachment trial of U.S. President Donald Trump has come to an end with a conclusion that was widely predicted.

In a 52 to 48 vote, Wednesday afternoon, the U.S. Senate gained enough votes to acquit Trump of the first impeachment charge against him: abuse of power.

Senators voted 53 to 47 on the second impeachment article, obstruction of Congress.

Impeachment charges against Trump ‘constitutionally incoherent,’ McConnell says

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the impeachment proceedings “an abbreviated, truncated rush job” following Trump’s acquittal, as well as a “colossal political mistake” for Democrats.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accused Republicans of turning their backs on the American people and supporting “a cover-up.”

“Make no mistake about it, the drip, drip, drip of evidence is going to keep coming out,” he said. “We made the fight for truth and we made the fight for facts and we created a bipartisan impeachment that can never be erased from history.”

Schumer said Democrats “walked out of the Senate chamber with their heads held high” and criticized Trump’s behaviour during his impeachment.

“The president made this a campaign rally, a reality TV show. He even sounded like a carnival barker,” he said.

Trump said on Twitter he would make a public statement on his impeachment acquittal on Thursday at noon.

The vote put to an end the weeks-long impeachment trial, which saw hours of arguments and bitter fighting over whether new witnesses should be called to testify.

The Republican-held chamber ultimately voted 51 to 49 last week to block hearing new testimony.

Only two members of the GOP — Mitt Romney and Susan Collins — broke with their party to vote alongside Democrats.

During closing arguments on Monday, House impeachment manager Adam Schiff called on Republican senators to stop what he called the “runaway presidency” and to stand up and say “enough.”

“For a man like Donald J. Trump, they gave you a remedy and meant for you to use it,” he said. “They gave you an oath, and they meant for you to observe it.

“We have proven Donald Trump guilty,” he continued. “Now do impartial justice and convict him.”

READ MORE: ‘Leave it to the voters’ — Trump impeachment trial hears closing arguments

At issue was whether Trump corruptly used the power of the office of the president of the United States to pressure Ukrainian officials to announce separate investigations into former vice-president Joe Biden and his son Hunter, and into unsubstantiated claims that the country had meddled in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump vehemently denied any wrongdoing, but the Democratic-majority U.S. House of Representatives — Congress’ lower chamber — voted in December to impeach him over the two charges.

Trump is only the third U.S. president to be impeached, joining Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. A fourth president, Richard Nixon, resigned amid House impeachment hearings, but before a formal vote was held.

The process then moved on to the Senate, where Trump’s Republican colleagues took the reins.

Trump’s defence counsel argued that Democrats have been seeking to impeach him before he was even elected, calling it the “era of impeachment.”

“Leave it to the voters to choose,” counsel Pat Cipollone said.

Donald Trump impeached by U.S. House

On Tuesday, McConnell said the charges against Trump were “constitutionally incoherent” and didn’t “even approach a case for the first presidential removal in American history.”

Trump delivered his annual State of the Union address Tuesday evening but did not mention the impeachment trial. Instead, he used the speech to tout the country’s economic strength and falling unemployment rate.

What happens next?

Now that Trump has been acquitted, he will remain in office for the remainder of his term.

The next presidential election is scheduled to take place this year on Nov. 3.

And even though he has been impeached, there are no rules barring Trump from running for office again.

In fact, Trump officially filed for re-election the same day he was inaugurated back in January 2017.

On Tuesday, Trump claimed victory at the first primary contest in Iowa.

“The only person that can claim a very big victory in Iowa last night is ‘Trump,'” he wrote in a tweet.

But, Trump does face opponents. On the Republican side, both Joe Walsh and William Weld are seeking the party’s nomination.

The Democratic field remains historically large, with 13 candidates seeking to become commander-in-chief.

If Trump is re-elected, could he be impeached again?

In a previous interview with Global News, Michael Gerhardt, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law and author of Impeachment: What Everyone Needs to Know, said there is no rule against impeaching a president more than once.

“I think the practice in Congress has been to take a position that it would not be appropriate to impeach more than once on the same misconduct,” he explained. “But if there were different misconduct, then there’s nothing in the Constitution that bars the House from impeaching again.”

— With files from the Associated Press

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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