Not guilty: Senate acquits Trump of impeachment charges

WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. Senate has acquitted President Donald Trump of impeachment, ending only the third presidential trial in American history with votes that split the country and tested civic norms.

The proceedings also are feeding the tumultuous 2020 run for the White House.

A majority of senators expressed unease with Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine that resulted in the two articles of impeachment. But there was nowhere near the two-thirds vote necessary in the Republican-held Senate to remove the president from office.

The two votes came largely along party lines. Fifty-two voted not guilty and 48 voted guilty on abuse of power. Fifty-three voted not guilty and 47 voted guilty on obstruction of Congress.

The verdict showed again the high bar of removing a president from office. No U.S. president has ever been removed by impeachment.

Trump tweeted a few minutes after the Senate voted to acquit him on the two counts. He also announced on Twitter that he will be making a statement on Thursday at noon.

Mitt Romney’s status as one of few Republicans willing to publicly criticize President Donald Trump is well known is his adopted home of Utah, but many were still surprised by his impeachment vote against him and unequivocal speech Wednesday.

Reactions were at odds in a state where Republicans are unusually divided on the president.

There was plenty of frustration and anger from Trump supporters, but others were heartened to see what Romney described as an agonizing vote dictated by his conscience.

Still, Romney has a deep well of goodwill in Utah and four years to explain his stance to voters before an re-election campaign.

Romney announces impeachment vote

The vote brought an end to only the third presidential impeachment trial in American history.

It also came at the start of a tumultuous campaign for the White House.

Alabama Sen. Doug Jones said he would vote to convict Trump on Wednesday. Jones is considered the most endangered Democrat in this November’s elections, so his decision is significant.

Alabama backed Trump by 28 percentage points in 2016, and Jones squeaked to a narrow special election victory in 2017.

Democratic leaders hoped Democratic senators would unanimously vote to remove Trump and erase a potential GOP talking point that Trump’s acquittal was bipartisan.

Jones said he made his decision after many sleepless nights.

A leading GOP moderate, Susan Collins of Maine, announced she would vote to acquit Trump, leaving Utah Sen. Mitt Romney as the only GOP vote to convict Trump of abusing his office and stonewalling Congress.

The chamber’s top Republican, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, again slammed the impeachment drive of House Democrats as “the most rushed, least fair and least thorough" in history and confirmed that he will vote to acquit Trump.

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Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer accused Republicans of sweeping Trump’s misconduct under the rug.

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