As expected, the Senate voted this afternoon on the ‘bogus’ articles of impeachment fabricated by the House, completely acquitting President Trump of wrongdoing.
The overwhelming (and partisan) vote was a historic rejection of Democrats’ claims that the president acted in a manner that would warrant his removal from office. The only defection from parties was Mitt Romney, who came out earlier and ‘explained’ why he voted guilty on the abuse of power charge.
Trent Lott asked the right question, whether Romney’s vote was based on “jealousy.”
By a final vote of 52-48 against conviction on the abuse of power charge and 53-47 on the obstruction charge, the Senate fell far short of the two-thirds majority needed to convict and remove the president. Swing-vote Republican senators — including Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee — voted to acquit on both counts.
The separate obstruction of Congress charge concerned the White House’s assertion of executive privilege and refusal to comply with congressional subpoenas. Romney explained he would acquit on the obstruction count, saying House Democrats had chosen not to respond to the White House’s legal arguments against the subpoenas.
After Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts formally declared Trump acquitted, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., presented him with the “Golden Gavel” award as a thank-you for his service. Former Chief Justice of the United States William Rehnquist received the same award, which is usually presented to freshmen senators after long hours presiding over the body, for his handling of President Bill Clinton’s 1999 impeachment trial.
“I look forward to seeing you all again under happier circumstances,” Roberts said as he concluded his remarks and prepared to depart the chamber.
Speaking to reporters after the vote, McConnell noted that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., had resisted calls for impeachment from the party’s progressive wing before finally caving — and said she should have trusted her “instincts.”
“This has been a colossal political mistake.”
— Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
“I’m pretty sure she didn’t want to do this,” McConnell said, referring to Pelosi’s lengthy reluctance to initiate impeachment proceedings. Trump, speaking to Fox News ahead of the Super Bowl, made a similar argument, saying the “radical” wing of the Democratic Party had pushed her into making a grave mistake and realizing her “worst nightmare.”
McConnell also said he was “perplexed” by Democrats’ arguments that the evidence against Trump was overwhelming and obvious, but at the same time, more witnesses and evidence were desperately needed.
He called the proceedings a “thoroughly political exercise,” and added that ironically, Pelosi was right “in the beginning” when she didn’t want to go down this path.
“This was a political loser for them,” McConnell said. “At least in the short-term, this has been a colossal political mistake.”
Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, meanwhile, told Fox News he was “disappointed” in Romney’s vote against the president. Lott, served in the Senate during Clinton’s impeachment trial, said he had “showed up in case they needed a reserve vote.”
“Was this jealousy?” Lott asked, concerning Romney’s vote. “He tried to lead the party. Now he can’t even be a part of the party.”
Murkowski, however, said she respected Romney’s decision and that he belonged in the GOP. “I think each of us had to come to our own place and I respect his decision,” she said. “I respect the difficulties that I know he went through as he processed it, but I absolutely respect where he ended up.”
Reaction from other Republicans was ebullient. Trump, on Twitter, reposted a mock Time Magazine cover implying he would never leave office.
After his acquittal by the Senate in 1999, Clinton came out of the White House alone and apologized for his conduct which led to his impeachment — a scene not expected this time around.
National Republican Congressional Committee chairman Tom Emmer quickly issued a statement saying he was “pleased” by the result.
“This should finally slam the door on the sick obsession these socialist Democrats have with harassing President Trump and his family,” Emmer said. “Nancy Pelosi needs to learn some self-control by suppressing her hatred of President Trump so she can finally start getting things done for the American people.”
While the result has been expected for months, the process brought a series of surprises and heightened animosity to Washington — exemplified dramatically during Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, in which Pelosi furiously ripped up the president’s speech upon its conclusion.
Also ahead of the vote, Republican and Democratic leaders addressed the Senate. McConnell warned of “truly dangerous” Democratic partisans, saying they insist on taking down institutions that do not produce the outcomes they desire.
“This partisan impeachment will end today,” McConnell said. “But, I fear the threat to our institutions may not. Normally, when a party loses an election, it accepts defeat. … But not this time.”
Instead, McConnell went on, top Democrats — including Hillary Clinton and Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. — have already preemptively challenged the validity of the 2020 presidential election, and blamed their loss on unsubstantiated claims that the president’s campaign colluded with Russians.