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  • Igwe Nnanna posted in the group Politics

    2 weeks, 5 days ago
    The Senate acquitted President Trump on Wednesday of charges that he abused his power and obstructed Congress, as Republicans turned back an election-year attempt by House Democrats to remove him from office for pressuring a foreign power to incriminate his political rivals.
    The tally for conviction fell far below the 67-vote threshold necessary for removal and neither article of impeachment garnered even a simple majority. The first article, abuse of power, was rejected 48 to 52, and the second, obstruction of Congress, was defeated 47 to 53. Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, was the only member to break with his party, voting to remove Mr. Trump from office.
    The votes, ending the third presidential impeachment trial in American history, were a resounding victory for Mr. Trump after five months of blaring scandal over Ukraine that embroiled Washington and threatened his presidency. But both sides agreed that the final judgment on Mr. Trump will be rendered by voters when they cast ballots in just nine months.
    Trump Impeachment Results: How Democrats and Republicans Voted
    See how each senator will vote on whether to convict and remove President Trump from office.
    Trump aides claim ‘total vindication’ for the president but advise him to remain quiet for now.
    Mr. Trump remained out of sight even as he was cleared by the Senate, forgoing an immediate victory lap, but announced on Twitter that he would make a statement on Thursday at noon from the White House “to discuss our Country’s VICTORY on the Impeachment Hoax!”
    The president abruptly canceled his only scheduled public appearance of the day without explanation when the White House scrubbed a joint statement with Juan Guaidó, the Venezuelan opposition leader recognized by the United States as the legitimate leader of his country.
    The president’s only immediate comment came in the form of a video that he posted on Twitter minutes after the Senate votes, needling opponents who hoped to evict him from office by showing him on a Time magazine cover with campaign placards that say, “Trump 2024,” “Trump 2028,” “Trump 2032,” and so on until ending with “Trump 4EVA.”
    Mr. Trump told television anchors at a lunch on Tuesday that he hoped to give a speech after the Senate vote, and aides said the president would like to hold a news conference or give a short statement. But many of his advisers urged him against it, wanting to ease pressure on senators for whom the vote was politically difficult.
    The White House and Mr. Trump’s campaign wasted little time declaring victory, though, each issuing a statement saying that the president had been vindicated.
    “Today, the sham impeachment attempt concocted by the Democrats ended in the full vindication and exoneration of President Donald J. Trump,” Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, said in a statement. “As we have said all along, he is not guilty.” She went on to describe the articles of impeachment as “yet another witch-hunt” that “was based on a series of lies.”
    Romney votes to convict Trump of abuse of power, the only Republican to support removing the president.
    During a statement to his colleagues, Senator Mitt Romney said he would vote to convict President Trump of abuse of power, becoming the first Republican to break party ranks.
    Al Drago for The New York Times
    Senator Mitt Romney of Utah voted to convict President Trump on one of the two impeachment charges, making him the only Republican to support removing Mr. Trump from office.
    Mr. Romney said in an interview that he would vote against the second article of impeachment, obstruction of Congress, arguing that House Democrats had failed to exhaust their legal options for securing testimony and other evidence.
    But he said that Democrats had proven their first charge, that the president had misused his office in a bid to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. for political reasons.
    Speaking slowly and at times haltingly from the Senate floor before the vote, Mr. Romney, who appeared to choke up at the beginning of his speech, said that his decision was made out of an “inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it.” He said Mr. Trump was “guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust.”
    Notwithstanding Mr. Romney’s position, the Senate acquitted Mr. Trump of both impeachment charges. But the defection of Mr. Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, is a dramatic capstone on the evolution of a party that has thoroughly succumbed to the vise-grip of Mr. Trump.
    Mr. Romney, who has been critical of Mr. Trump at various points since 2016, said he was acutely aware that he would suffer serious political ramifications for his decision, particularly in light of the strict loyalty the president has come to expect from elected officials of his own party. No House Republican voted to impeach Mr. Trump in December. (Representative Justin Amash, a former Republican of Michigan who fled the party over his differences with Mr. Trump, voted in favor of both articles.)
    “I recognize there is going to be enormous consequences for having reached this conclusion,” Mr. Romney said. “Unimaginable” is how he described what might be in store for him.
    The pushback from Mr. Trump’s camp started quickly. “Mitt Romney is forever bitter that he will never be POTUS. He was too weak to beat the Democrats then so he’s joining them now. He’s now officially a member of the resistance & should be expelled from the @GOP,” Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, wrote on Twitter.
    In her statement after the vote, Ms. Grisham referred to Mr. Romney only as a “failed Republican presidential candidate.”
    — Mark Leibovich
    Endangered Senate Democrats stick with their party and vote for conviction.
    Three Senate Democrats from conservative-leaning states who had been targeted by the White House as possible defectors voted to convict Mr. Trump, depriving the president of the chance to claim a bipartisan exoneration despite the political risk.
    Senators Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Doug Jones of Alabama all announced their decisions in the final hours before the vote ending the Senate impeachment trial, ensuring that all 47 Democrats would stick together in supporting the removal of Mr. Trump from office.
    “After many sleepless nights, I have reluctantly concluded that the evidence is sufficient to convict the president for both abuse of power and obstruction of Congress,” Mr. Jones, who is facing re-election in a state that Mr. Trump won in 2016 by nearly 28 percentage points, said in a statement.
    Mr. Manchin, whose state went for Mr. Trump with 70 percent three years ago, had urged a nonbinding, bipartisan censure, only to be ignored, and told reporters that he struggled deeply over his decision. “It’s a tough one guys,” he said before announcing his decision. “It’s a tough one.”
    Ms. Sinema, a freshman who was one of the few Democrats to enthusiastically jump to her feet to applaud Mr. Trump at points during his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, said that in the end she could not condone Mr. Trump’s use of his office to leverage domestic political assistance from a foreign power.
    “While White House attorneys claim this behavior is not serious,” she said in a statement, “it is dangerous to the fundamental principles of American democracy to use the power of the federal government for personal or political gain.”
    — Emily Cochrane and Michael D. Shear
    With the Senate trial over, House Democrats signal that they will ‘likely’ to subpoena John Bolton.
    Just because it is over does not mean it is actually over. Hours before the Senate ended President Trump ’s trial, a senior House Democrat indicated that he would continue the investigation on his side of the Capitol, starting with a subpoena for
    John R. Bolton , the president’s former national security adviser.
    Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, told reporters that he would “likely” subpoena Mr. Bolton, who has confirmed in an unpublished book that Mr. Trump conditioned security aid on Ukraine ’s willingness to investigate the president’s Democratic rivals, the central allegation in the trial.
    “I think it’s likely, yes,” said Mr. Nadler, one of the seven House managers prosecuting the charges against Mr. Trump. “When you have a lawless president, you have to bring that to the fore, you have to spotlight that, you have to protect the Constitution despite the political consequences.”
    The House asked Mr. Bolton to testify before the December impeachment vote, but he did not agree and Democrats opted not to subpoena him because it could result in a lengthy court fight. When the articles of impeachment reached the Senate, however, Mr. Bolton publicly said he would comply with a Senate subpoena and testify if called. But Senate Republicans rushed to block any new evidence from being considered, and succeeded last week in holding together enough votes to beat back a bid by Democrats to seek new testimony and documents.
    It was not clear whether Mr. Bolton would be willing to comply with a subpoena without a court fight if issued by the House outside the context of an impeachment trial. A spokeswoman for Mr. Bolton had no comment on Wednesday. Even if he did, Mr. Trump could assert executive privilege to try to block his testimony, provoking the legal battle Democrats hoped to avoid.
    ‘It’s my hope we’ve finally found bottom.’ Senators lament a broken institution.
    Normally a staid body, the Senate for the past two weeks has been roiled day after day by the impeachment trial, leaving several senators dejected and dug into their partisan corners.
    Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, said in a speech on the Senate floor that the chamber “should be ashamed by the rank partisanship that has been on display here,” adding later: “It’s my hope that we’ve finally found bottom here.” She voted to acquit Mr. Trump.
    Mr. Trump’s acquittal has also left Democrats embittered about the future of the institution in which they serve. Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, said that while he wasn’t surprised by Mr. Trump’s abuse of power, he was surprised by the Senate’s “capitulation” to the president.
    “Unchallenged evil spreads like a virus,” Mr. Kaine said Tuesday on the Senate floor. “We have allowed a toxic President to infect the Senate and warp its behavior.”
    So where does that leave the Senate? Other senators sounded a more optimistic note.
    “I think we heal in part by surprising the people and coming out from our partisan corners and getting stuff done,” Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, said, citing addressing the opioid crisis and crumbling infrastructure as examples. “Stuff that they care about that affects the families we were sent here to represent.”
    — Catie Edmondson

    The New York Times

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