Written by Margaret Warnick
President Donald Trump was acquitted of impeachment charges by a Republican-majority Senate on Feb. 7 in a vote that was almost entirely along party lines. His acquittal makes him the third president in American history to be impeached and acquitted.
The acquittal ended nearly five months of hearing and investigations after a whistleblower came forward about alleged misdealings between Trump and Ukraine in late August of 2019. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi launched an official impeachment inquiry a month later on Sept. 24, saying “The actions of the Trump presidency revealed dishonorable facts of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.” The impeachment process then passed to the House of Representatives where the Democratic majority passed two articles of impeachment: obstruction of Congress and abuse of power in December of that year. According to the constitution, impeachable offenses are “Treason, Bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanors.” After the impeachment, Trump became one of three Presidents to be formally impeached, following Johnson in 1868 and Clinton in 1998.
Following the formal impeachment, the vote for removal from office was passed to the Republican-controlled Senate, who have the power to either remove an impeached president from office or to acquit. For nearly two weeks, the case was discussed with the largest point of contention being whether or not to hear witnesses related to the case. On Jan. 31, the Senate rejected witnesses in a 53-47 vote. On Feb. 3, the Senate voted on articles of impeachment almost entirely along party lines, with all Democrats voting “guilty” on both accounts, and all Republicans voting “not guilty” to obstruction of justice. The only senator to break party lines was Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), who voted “guilty” on accounts of abuse of power, calling Trump’s actions in Ukraine “the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine.” After the second article was defeated, Chief Justice Roberts announced Trump’s official acquittal and the impeachment process ended.
After the acquittal, Democratic leaders expressed their anger. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) equated the trial to a “kangaroo court” saying that “By refusing the facts — by refusing witnesses and documents — the Republican majority has placed a giant asterisk, the asterisk of a sham trial, next to the acquittal of President Trump, written in permanent ink.” Pelosi voiced a similar sentiment on Wednesday, Feb. 5 saying “There can be no acquittal without a trial, and there is no trial without witnesses, documents and evidence,” in a speech, one day after ripping up Trump’s State of the Union transcript on television.
President Trump celebrated his acquittal with a speech on Thursday, Feb. 6, the day after his State of the Union Address. In his speech, he thanked his supporters while holding up a Washington Post paper with the bold headline “Trump Acquitted.” He apologized for the ordeal his family had to go through and indirectly called out perceived political opponents, including Pelosi and Romney. “This should never have to happen to another President ever,” stated Trump, emphasizing the “terrible ordeal” of the whole impeachment process to a room packed with supporters.