Donald Trump has been acquitted of both impeachment charges against him, meaning he will remain in office ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
He had been accused of “high crimes and misdemeanours” in his dealings with Ukraine, becoming only the third US president in history to be impeached.
The Republican-controlled Senate voted 52-48 in his favour on the first article of impeachment, with Republican Mitt Romney switching sides and becoming the first person in American history to vote to remove a president from his own party – throwing the book at Trump in the process.
“The grave question the Constitution tasks senators to answer is whether the president committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a high crime and misdemeanour. Yes, he did,” Romney said.
His choice to vote to convict Trump on the first article of impeachment was the “most difficult decision I have ever faced”, he said.
BREAKING: Sen. Mitt Romney: “The grave question the Constitution tasks senators to answer is whether the president committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a high crime and misdemeanor. Yes, he did.” https://t.co/pZ46hjTyU1 pic.twitter.com/mphoUd39I5
— ABC News (@ABC) February 5, 2020
“With my vote I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty. What the president did was wrong. Grievously wrong,” Romney said.
“There’s no question in my mind that were their names not Biden, the president would never have what he did.”
On the second article of impeachment, Romney voted with his party, meaning Democrats fell far short of the 67 votes – or two-third majority – needed to remove Trump from office.
Romney, who fought Trump for the Republican nomination ahead of the 2016 election, cited his deeply religious faith as the reason behind his vote to convict. His switch earned him praise from Democrats but ridicule from others, with Trump’s campaign chief Brad Parscale tweeting that Romney was “an irrelevant relic” who was “sour about Trump’s success”.
“President Trump has been totally vindicated and it’s now time to get back to the business of the American people,” Parscale tweeted in a statement after Trump was acquitted of both charges.
“The do-nothing Democrats know they can’t beat him, so they had to impeach him. This terrible ordeal was always a campaign tactic to invalidate the 2016 votes of 63 million Americans and was a transparent effort to interfere with the 2020 election only nine months away.”
Trump tweeted a old video of a fake TIME magazine cover showing him running for office indefinitely.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 5, 2020
Despite Democrats calling for key witnesses to testify during the impeachment – including former national security advisor John Bolton, and indicted Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas – the trial ultimately went ahead without them. Consequentially, this impeachment process went entirely expected.