US Politics: Trump acquitted in Senate impeachment trial

Trump called the impeachment trial a 'hoax'
Trump was acquitted by his fellow Republicans in the Senate
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Senators voted largely along party lines to acquit Donald Trump in the president's impeachment trial. Tradefair brings you the latest from US politics...

This entire effort by the Democrats was aimed at overturning the results of the 2016 election."

- White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham

Senators have brought Donald Trump's impeachment trial to an end, voting to clear the president of all charges and saving him from being removed from office.

The articles of impeachment charged Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, in connection with allegations he pressured Ukraine into discrediting his political rival, the Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden.

Democrats faced the all but impossible task of securing a two-thirds majority in the Republican-controlled Senate to remove the president from office. In the end, the votes passed largely along party lines, with only one Republican senator defecting and voting against Trump on one of the charges.

How the votes unfolded

The Senate voted to acquit the president by a majority of 52-48 on the charge of abuse of power and 53-47 on obstruction of Congress.

Mitt Romney of Utah was the only Republican senator to vote in favour of convicting Trump on the first charge of abuse of power.

Romney said the Senate was tasked with deciding whether or not the president committed an act "so extreme and egregious" that it justified his removal from office.

"Yes, he did," the senator said in response to this question. He added that Trump's alleged efforts to pressure Ukraine into investigating Biden for "personal and political" reasons equated to "an appalling abuse of public trust".

Trump responded by immediately taking aim at Romney on Twitter, referring to his loss to Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election.

Democrats had hoped that other moderate Republican senators, such as Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, would join Romney in crossing party lines and voting to convict the president, but they chose not to do so.

On the Republican side, there were hopes that three centrist Democrats - Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Doug Jones of Alabama - would cross the aisle and vote against the charges, but all three backed convicting the president.

'Full vindication'

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham responded to the conclusion of the impeachment trial with an official statement saying the president had been fully vindicated and exonerated.

She accused the Democrats of conducting a "witch hunt" and depriving the president of his due process rights.

The statement singled out House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff and House speaker Nancy Pelosi for particular criticism, accusing them of lying to Congress and the American people.

"This entire effort by the Democrats was aimed at overturning the results of the 2016 election and interfering with the 2020 election," Grisham added.

"Throughout this wholly corrupt process, President Trump successfully advanced the interests of the United States and remained focused on the issues that matter to Americans."

Trump confirmed on Twitter that he would be giving a public statement from the White House at 12:00 EST today (February 6) to discuss the "country's victory on the impeachment hoax".

'We know better'

Key Democrats also gave their reaction to the widely expected outcome of the impeachment trial.

Senate Democratic leader and New York senator Chuck Schumer said the president's acquittal was "virtually valueless" because Republicans had blocked efforts to call new witnesses and evidence in the trial.

"There's a giant asterisk next to the president's acquittal. The asterisk says he was acquitted without facts. He was acquitted without a fair trial," Schumer said.

"No doubt, the president will boast he received total exoneration, but we know better."

Pelosi called Trump an "ongoing threat to American democracy" and criticised Senate Republicans for having "normalised lawlessness".

Now the impeachment trial is over, the focus of US politics will gradually shift to the forthcoming presidential election.

The Democrats are currently in the process of choosing their candidate to go up against Trump in November. Biden - a central figure in the impeachment investigation - is among the front runners in the race, along with Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders.

Trump's campaign team are likely to place a big emphasis on the strength of the US economy, a theme the president frequently returns to in his speeches and campaign rhetoric.

He got further fuel for these messages this week, after US stocks climbed to new record highs.

Buoyed by various factors - including reports that progress is being made towards a vaccine for the coronavirus and China's plans to cut tariffs on US imports - the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained nearly 1.7% on Wednesday, while the S&P 500 Index rose by 1.1%.

Asian stocks have also taken a positive turn, with Shanghai's SSE Composite Index clawing back 1.7% of recently lost value on Thursday.

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