The US President Donald Trump has survived impeachment. The notorious trial came to an end on Wednesday with the embattled president winning the impeachment acquittal.
The senate voted to bring to an end the impeachment controversy that has put the White House on spotlight since August 2019. The first article of impeachment (abuse of power) polled 52-48 in favor of acquittal while the second article (obstruction of Congress) ended 53-47 favoring “not guilty.” It requires two-thirds “guilty” votes to reach the Constitution’s bar of high crimes and misdemeanors to find Trump guilty and remove him from office.
Trump has boasted of his 95% approval rating within the GOP, an indication of his confidence that the Republican dominated senate would acquit him. In the House, the democrats led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi had voted overwhelmingly for Trump’s impeachment, except for two democrats who joined the Republicans to oppose.
The senate trial appeared to have returned the favor to democrats, Mitch McConnell was overseeing what seemed like a predetermined trial. Apart from a few GOP members who said they were going to vote to impeach, others were inclined to party line.
Mitt Romney announced before the trial he was going to vote impeachment on the first charge, abuse of power, but would vote acquittal on the second, obstruction of justice.
While democrats are worried that if left, Trump will continue to abuse his power and exploit the system for his personal gain, Republicans saw the whole impeachment saga in Trump’s voice – “witch Hunt.”
The impeachment proceeding that started off a whistleblower’s tip which opened a can of private conversation President Trump had with his Ukrainian counterpart back in July last year. Trump reportedly pressured Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate the former vice president Joe Biden, who is also a 2020 presidential aspirant.
Investigation into the claim has inspired House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to commence impeachment proceedings against Trump with only one article, abuse of power. But Trump was defiant in his response to the inquiry, blocking all witnesses subpoenaed in the White House from testifying. That resulted in the second article, obstruction of justice.
The nearly three weeks trial unraveled extraordinary shadow diplomacy run by Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani that set the Left on their toes, pushing for further investigation. Trump had temporarily halted the US military aid to Ukraine after his phone call with the president back in July 2019. Ukraine is a US ally in battle with a US foe, Russia. The fund was released in September after the intervention of the Congress.
In the senate, the Democrats’ attempt to call more witnesses was blocked by Republican votes, with McConnell saying the House would have done a better job before coming to the Senate. But the inquiry seems far from over as House Democrats may yet summon former national security adviser John Bolton to testify about revelations from his forthcoming book that offers a fresh account of Trump’s actions.
The lead prosecutor Adam Schiff, a Democrat House Member had appealed to senators to put sense of decency before partisanship. He said “right matters” and “truth matters” and that “Trump is not who you are.”
He told Associated Press: “The president’s lack of character, his willingness to cheat in the election – he’s not going to stop. It’s not going to change, which means that we are going to have to remain eternally vigilant.”
But GOP members appear to be more concerned about 2020 elections. Their assertion from the onset has been that Trump is being victimized and his presidency being undermined by the Left, which supports Trump’s claim of “witch hunt” and “presidential harassment.”
Trump’s lawyers led by Attorney Dershowitz argued that even if there was a quid pro quo as claimed by the prosecution, it is not impeachable because politicians often align their personal interest with the national interest.
Some Republicans kept their distance from Trump’s defense while others backed the call from conservatives to disclose the name of the whistleblower.
Trump has made the list of US presidents acquitted by the Senate alongside Andrew Johnson 1868 and Bill Clinton 1999.
Trump’s presidency has been tainted with controversy, starting with special counsel Muller’s inquiry into Russia’s involvement in the US election that brought Trump to power.
Toward the end of the trial, the public view of Trump and the GOP appeared to have improved as the new Gallup poll shows Trump hitting a new high of 49% from his dwindling 45 and below. The approval rating of the Republicans also hit a new high of 51%, the highest since 2005.
Trump in acknowledgement of his victory tweeted: “I will be making a public statement tomorrow at 12:00 pm from the White House to discuss our country’s victory on the impeachment hoax.”