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Not Guilty: US Senate Clears Trump of Impeachment Charges


U.S. senators cast votes in Trump impeachment trial at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. February 5, 2020. U.S. Senate TV/Handout via Reuters
Not Guilty: US Senate Clears Trump of Impeachment Charges
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The United States Senate has voted to clear President Donald Trump of charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The vote brought an end to the third impeachment trial in the nation’s history. It followed months of impeachment processes that demonstrated the nation’s sharp political divide three years into the Trump presidency.

The U.S. House of Representatives, which has a Democratic majority, impeached Trump in December. The impeachment trial in the Republican-led Senate began in January.

The U.S. Constitution requires two-thirds, or 67, “guilty” votes in the Senate to remove a president from office for “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Democrats who brought the impeachment charges fell short of that Wednesday. All but one Republican senator said that Trump, a member of the Republican Party, was “not guilty” of the two charges he faced. All Democrats in the Senate voted “guilty.”

Senator Mitt Romney, the Republican Party’s presidential nominee in 2012, announced Wednesday that he would vote to convict Trump of the first charge -- abuse of power.

In this image from video, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, speaks on the Senate floor about the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020.
In this image from video, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, speaks on the Senate floor about the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020.

Romney said, “The president asked a foreign government to investigate his political rival. The president withheld vital military funds from that government to press it to do so. The president delayed funds for an American ally at war with Russian invaders. The president’s purpose was personal and political. Accordingly, the president is guilty of an appalling abuse of the public trust.”

The first article of impeachment charged Trump with abusing his power by asking Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy to launch an investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son. At the same time, Trump temporarily withheld over $390 million in military aid to Ukraine that the country wanted to help fight pro-Russian separatists.

The second impeachment article accused Trump of obstructing -- or blocking -- congressional investigations into his Ukraine-related actions. It said he did so by directing people close to him not to answer questions or provide documents to impeachment investigators.

The final vote numbers Wednesday were 52 to 48 on abuse of power and 53 to 47 on obstruction of Congress.

The vote Wednesday brought an end to the fastest, most divided impeachment trial in U.S. history. It included no witnesses and lasted three weeks.

The U.S. Senate has never removed a president from office. The impeachment trials of Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1999 also both ended in acquittal.

Trump, however, is the first president to be impeached while facing re-election.

The president’s press secretary released a statement following the Senate’s decision. It read in part, “As we have said all along, he is not guilty. The Senate voted to reject the baseless articles of impeachment, and only the President’s political opponents – all Democrats, and one failed Republican presidential candidate – voted for the manufactured impeachment articles.”

I’m Ashley Thompson.

Ashley Thompson adapted this report based on articles by The Associated Press and VOA News. Caty Weaver was the editor.

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Words in This Story

impeachment - n. to charge (a public official) with a crime done while in office

misdemeanor - n. a crime that is not very serious : a crime that is less serious than a felony​

convict - v. to prove that someone is guilty of a crime in a court of law

vital - adj. extremely important

appalling - adj. very bad in a way that causes fear, shock, or disgust

acquittal - n. ​the act of deciding that a person is not guilty of a crime : the act of acquitting someone​

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