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Trump acquitted by a divided Senate

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on February 6, 2020 - Duration: 03:26s

Trump acquitted by a divided Senate

President Donald Trump was acquitted on Wednesday in his U.S. Senate impeachment trial, saved by fellow Republicans who rallied to protect him nine months before he asks voters in a deeply divided America to give him a second White House term.

Jonah Green reports.

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Trump acquitted by a divided Senate

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) U.S. CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS, SAYING: "It is therefore ordered and adjudged that the said Donald John Trump be and is hereby acquitted of the charges in said articles." After all the arguments, the hearings, the speeches, the fighting and the tweets, the impeachment of President Donald Trump is over.

The Republican-led Senate voted on Wednesday to acquit Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) SEN.

MITCH MCCONNELL, SAYING: "We will reject this incoherent case." (SOUNDBITE) (English) SEN.

LINDSEY GRAHAM, SAYING: "This sham process is the low point in the Senate for me." But as the votes were cast, a crack appeared in Trump's red wall.

Democrats were united in voting to convict, and they were joined by a single Republican Senator on the first article of impeachment: Mitt Romney.

(SOUNDBITE) (English)SEN.

MITT ROMNEY, SAYING: "Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most destructive abuse I can imagine." Romney said he knew his vote would not be without consequences.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SEN.

MITT ROMNEY, SAYING: "I'm sure to hear abuse from the president and his supporters.

Does anyone seriously believe that I would consent to these consequences other than from an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me?" Several Other Republicans - while clearing him of the charges - conceded Trump's withholding of military aid to coerce Ukraine to investigate his rivals was wrong.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) REPUBLICAN SENATOR FROM ALASKA, LISA MURKOWSKI, SAYING: "The president's behavior was shameful and wrong..." (SOUNDBITE) (English) REPUBLICAN SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS, SAYING: "Improper and demonstrated very poor judgment." But it didn't warrant removal.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) REPUBLICAN SENATOR FROM ALASKA, LISA MURKOWSKI, SAYING: "The response to the president's behavior is not to disenfranchise 63 million Americans." Democrats said Trump was a threat to American democracy and its standing abroad, and warned that he would take acquittal as a green light to take his abuse of power to new heights.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SEN.

MASIE HIRONO, SAYING: "By refusing to hold this president accountable, my Republican colleagues are reinforcing the president's misguided belief that he can do whatever he wants under Article 2." (SOUNDBITE) (English) SEN.

MARK WARNER, SAYING: "We will be giving the green light to foreign adversaries and future presidents that this kind of behavior is ok." (SOUNDBITE) (English) SEN.

SHERROD BROWN, SAYING: "There is no question that it will get worse.

How do I know that?

I've heard it from a number of my Republican colleagues, when privately they'll tell me yes, we are concerned about what the president's going to do if he's exonerated." Unlike presidents Clinton and Nixon before him โ€“ Trump managed to get through the impeachment hearings and trial without allowing any close advisor to testify or handing over a single document.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SEN.

CHUCK SCHUMER, SAYING: "The Republican majority refused to get the evidence because they were afraid of what it might show." Such stonewalling of Congress without consequence - Democrats warned- would harm the balance of power in Washington.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SEN.

RON TESTER, SAYING: "The next president will use this precedent to not give any information to a co-equal branch of government when we question them.

The next president will use this as, geez, if it's good for me and my election, it's good for the country, as Dershowitz said.

And yet, the investigation continues.

The Senate may have refused to subpoena Trump's former national security advisor John Bolton, who's reportedly written a book that confirms that charges against Trump.

But House leaders said it's likely they will.

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