The New York Times Company
WASHINGTON — After five months of hearings, investigations and cascading revelations about President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, a divided U.S. Senate acquitted him on Wednesday of charges that he abused his power and obstructed Congress to aid his own reelection, bringing an acrimonious impeachment trial to its expected end.
In a pair of nearly party-line votes whose outcome was never in doubt, the Senate fell well short of the two-thirds margin that would have been needed to remove Trump, formally concluding the three-week-long trial of the 45th president.
It was the third impeachment trial of a president and the third acquittal in American history, and it ended the way it began, with Republicans and Democrats at odds over Trump’s conduct and his fitness for office, even as some members of his own party conceded the basic allegations that undergirded the charges, that he sought to pressure Ukraine to smear his political rivals.
But in a sign of the widening partisan divide testing the country and its institutions, the verdict did not promise finality. Democratic leaders immediately insisted the result was illegitimate, the product of a self-interested cover-up by Republicans, and promised to continue their investigations of Trump.
The president, vindicated in what he has long called a politically motivated hoax to take him down, prepared to campaign as an exonerated executive. And both parties conceded that voters, not the Senate, would deliver the final judgment on Trump when they cast ballots in just nine months.
As expected, the tally in favor of conviction fell far below the 67-vote threshold necessary for removal on each article. On the first charge, abuse of power, it failed on a vote of 48-52. The second article, charging Trump with obstructing Congress for an across-the-board blockade of House subpoenas and oversight requests, failed 47-53.
But in a stinging symbolic rebuke of the country’s leader aimed at history, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, broke with the party and voted to convict Trump of abuse of power, saying that the president’s pressure campaign on Ukraine was “the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine.”