It’s finally over.
President Donald Trump was acquitted on both impeachment charges Wednesday afternoon, The Washington Times reported, putting to rest a five-month crusade by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) to remove him from office. The predictable outcome set the stage for Trump to take a victory lap just nine months before his re-election.
The Senate voted to acquit Trump of both articles of impeachment in an almost entirely party-line vote, with Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) being the only defection. The Senate acquitted Trump of “abuse of power” in a 52–48 vote, and “obstruction of congress” in a 53–47 vote, that time with Romney’s support.
Romney, Trump’s most visible nemesis inside his own party, said the president’s actions were an “assault on our electoral rights, our national security, and our fundamental values.” His vote drew immediate calls for his expulsion from the Republican Party, but Democrats praised his “courage.”
Dems impeached Trump for “abuse of power” for pressuring Ukraine to investigate possible corruption involving Joe Biden and his son Hunter in Ukraine and lodged the “obstruction” charge for allegedly blocking congressional inquiries. But Republicans said that Trump’s actions were simply not impeachable offenses and that the Democrats were attempting to shield the Bidens from legitimate scrutiny.
Deeply divisive impeachment
The vote caps off grueling months of partisan warfare that deepened an already bitter divide. Democrats have argued that Trump abused his power like no other president in history and that Republicans conspired with him in a cover-up. However, Trump and his allies maintained that his impeachment was the latest stage of a rolling coup attempt that began on day one of his presidency.
The final stretch of the impeachment trial saw an ugly fight over witnesses that came to an end when Republicans garnered the votes to shut the process down. Democrats insist that Trump’s acquittal is illegitimate because witnesses including John Bolton did not testify, but Republicans have said that Democrats rushed to impeach Trump without completing a thorough investigation of the Ukraine case.
Trump’s acquittal came during a news cycle that developed at a break-neck pace: the Democratic Iowa caucuses on Monday had no clear outcome after an embarrassing technical meltdown, and Trump was in a position to boast in his State of the Union Tuesday night ahead of an expected acquittal. He avoided mentioning the topic of impeachment in a triumphant and optimistic speech, but tensions were apparent when Pelosi ripped his speech in two the instant his address concluded.
Hard-earned victory lap
Trump’s removal from office was never expected, and many had anticipated that his impeachment would harden partisan divisions nationwide while spurring a backlash against Democrats. Both of those things seem to have come true. As factional conflict reached new levels of bitterness this week, a Gallup poll found that Trump had his highest approval rating on record at 49%.
Following the ceremony and tradition of Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, Trump was far more candid in a pair of speeches Thursday morning and afternoon. At the National Prayer Breakfast and then in a victory speech at the White House, Trump savaged his enemies, especially Pelosi and Romney, and gave his candid, unfiltered thoughts on the “bulls***” Russia hoax and the Ukraine follow-up that consumed almost his entire first term: “It was evil, it was corrupt, it was dirty cops, it was leakers and liars.”
At her own press conference, Pelosi defended the act of shredding Trump’s speech and declared that he had been “impeached forever.” Meanwhile, Democrats have vowed to continue investigating Ukraine and the House may still subpoena John Bolton.
The president has been through hell, and he’s still fighting. But for now, at least, he can take a well-deserved victory lap.