Even with no witness testimony, a majority in the 100-member U.S. Senate indicated in some way that Donald Trump acted inappropriately when he pressured Ukraine’s president to dig up dirt on his political rivals. But on Wednesday, senators voted 52 to 48 to acquit him anyway on the charge of abusing his office. The Senate also voted to acquit him 53 to 47 on the charge of obstruction.
In December, Trump became just the third president in U.S. history to be impeached by the House of Representatives. By historic numbers, the House accused him of obstruction and abuse of power.
While Trump and his Republican defenders have repeatedly claimed the impeachment was not bipartisan — ignoring that conservative Rep. Justin Amash left the GOP over his opposition to Trump and voted in favor — the vote to convict was bipartisan.
Every Democrat voted to convict Trump on Wednesday on both charges, and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) also voted to convict Trump of abuse of power, calling Trump “guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust.”
In addition, several Republican senators voted to find Trump not guilty despite public statements indicating that they too found his actions wholly inappropriate.
In a floor speech on Monday, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) announced she would vote to acquit Trump even though he had acted improperly. “It was wrong for President Trump to mention former Vice President Biden on that phone call, and it was wrong for him to ask a foreign country to investigate a political rival,” she said.
In a New York Times opinion piece on Wednesday, Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) noted that for four months he has “consistently said that Mr. Trump’s request for an investigation of Joe Biden and any effort to tie the release of military aid to investigations were improper and shouldn’t have happened,” but that he did not believe it warranted removal from office.
“It was inappropriate for the president to ask a foreign leader to investigate his political opponent and to withhold United States aid to encourage that investigation,” Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said in a statement last Thursday. “When elected officials inappropriately interfere with such investigations, it undermines the principle of equal justice under the law.”
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) endorsed Alexander’s criticisms, saying, “Let me be clear: Lamar speaks for lots and lots of us.” On Tuesday, he wrote that Trump’s call with Ukraine’s president was “was certainly not ‘perfect'” and his delay of security aid “was wrong.”
“Long story short, @SenatorAlexander most likely expressed the sentiments of the country as a whole as well as any single Senator possibly could,” Graham tweeted last Friday, adding in another tweet, “To those who believe that all was ‘perfect,’ Senator Alexander made reasoned observations and conclusions based on the evidence before him. He called it as he saw it to be.”
Updated with details from the vote on the charge of obstruction.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.