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Senate acquits Trump on impeachment charges, rejecting calls for his removal in historic trial

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Senate acquits Trump of impeachment charges 03:19

Washington — The Senate voted to acquit President Donald J. Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, bringing an end to a five-month saga that began with a whistleblower's complaint and culminated in just the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history.

In the vote on the first article of impeachment, which came shortly after 4 p.m., 48 senators found the president guilty of abuse of power, with 52 senators voting to acquit. 

One Republican, Mitt Romney of Utah, broke party lines and sided with Democrats in voting guilty on the first article. In a dramatic speech before the vote, Romney said Mr. Trump committed "an appalling abuse of public trust" by pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rivals. Romney, the GOP's presidential nominee in 2012, became the first senator in history to vote to convict a president of his own party.

In the vote on the second article of obstruction of Congress, 47 senators found the president guilty, versus 53 who voted not guilty, with Romney returning to the Republican fold.

"The Senate, having tried Donald John Trump, president of the United States, upon two articles of impeachment exhibited against him by the House of Representatives, and two-thirds of the senators present not having found him guilty of the charges contained therein, it is therefore ordered and adjudged that the said Donald John Trump be, and he is hereby, acquitted of the charges in said articles," Chief Justice John Roberts declared after the vote on the second article.

Wednesday's votes had been a foregone conclusion for nearly a week, after the Senate voted against allowing new witnesses and documents in the trial, most notably former national security adviser John Bolton. Democrats implored senators to issue subpoenas to fill in crucial details about a connection between the scheme to get Ukraine to pursue investigations and a delay in nearly $400 million in military aid.

Mr. Trump became the third president to be impeached by the House and acquitted in a Senate trial. He is the first to do so in the midst of a reelection campaign, a fact that colored the proceedings against him.

Speaking to reporters after the votes to acquit, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had steered the proceedings, said it's time for Congress to move on to other legislative business and leave the judgment of Mr. Trump's actions to the voters.

"It's time to move on," McConnell said. "This decision has been made. As far as I'm concerned, it's in the rearview mirror, and the consequences of it in terms of the future are up to the voters of the country to decide who they want to lead the government."


Pelosi: Republicans "normalized lawlessness" with acquittal

In a statement, Speaker Nancy Pelosi condemned the majority of Republicans for voting to acquit Mr. Trump.

"Today, the president and Senate Republicans have normalized lawlessness and rejected the system of checks and balances of our constitution," Pelosi said.

Pelosi countered the White House's argument that the president has been exonerated by the acquittal.

"The president will boast that he has been acquitted. There can be no acquittal without a trial, and there is no trial without witnesses, documents and evidence," Pelosi argued. "By suppressing the evidence and rejecting the most basic elements of a fair judicial process, the Republican Senate made themselves willing accomplices to the president's cover-up."

"Sadly, because of the Republican Senate's betrayal of the constitution, the president remains an ongoing threat to American democracy, with his insistence that he is above the law and that he can corrupt the elections if he wants to," Pelosi continued.

By Grace Segers

White House responds to Trump's acquittal

While the country will not hear from Mr. Trump until Thursday, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham issued a statement celebrating the Senate's vote to acquit the president of both impeachment charges.

"Today, the sham impeachment attempt concocted by Democrats ended in the full vindication and exoneration of President Donald J. Trump," Grisham said. "As we have said all along, he is not guilty."

Calling the articles of impeachment "baseless," Grisham took a dig at Romney for his vote to convict Mr. Trump of abuse of power, calling him a "failed Republican presidential candidate" who voted with Democrats.

Grisham accused House Democrats of launching a "witch-hunt that deprived the president of his due process rights and was based on a series of lies" and questioned whether there will be "retribution" for comments House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California, made about Mr. Trump's July phone call with Zelensky.

"In the Senate, the Democrats continued to make their political motivations clear – Rep. Schiff proclaimed the issues 'cannot be decided at the ballot box' – proving once again they think they know better than the voters of this country," Grisham said. "This entire effort by the Democrats was aimed at overturning the results of the 2016 election and interfering with the 2020 election."

The press secretary claimed that while Congress was focused on impeachment, Mr. Trump "spent his time achieving real victories for the people of this country, and the Democrats — once again — have nothing to show for their fraudulent schemes."

"The president is pleased to put this latest chapter of shameful behavior by the Democrats in the past, and looks forward to continuing his work on behalf of the American people in 2020 and beyond," the statement concluded.

By Melissa Quinn

Moments after vote, GOP senators announce request for Hunter Biden's travel records

Moments after the Senate voted to acquit the president, Republican Senators Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson announced they've asked the Secret Service for Hunter Biden's travel records — an indication that Republicans might only be getting started in pursuing investigations into the former vice president's son.

"We write to request information about whether Hunter Biden used government-sponsored travel to help conduct private business, to include his work for Rosemont Seneca and related entities in China and Ukraine," the senators wrote to Secret Service Director James Murray. 

"In addition to business dealings in China, Hunter Biden also served as a board member for Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company," they continued. 

The senators asked the Secret Service to describe the protective detail Hunter Biden received while his father was vice president, and a list of all dates and locations where he received a protective detail for travel. The senators also asked the Secret Service to note whether he was on Air Force One, Air Force Two or other government aircraft.

By Kathryn Watson

Schumer says Democrats walked out "with their heads held high"

Speaking to reporters after the vote, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer praised members of his caucus, while condemning Republicans for refusing to hear from new witnesses before voting to acquit Mr. Trump.

"This is clearly not a happy day for the nation or the Senate. The nation turned its back on the truth, on a fair trial," Schumer said. "But Democrats walked out of the chamber with their heads held high."

He said that McConnell and most Republicans "failed to live up to what this country is all about."

"While Leader McConnell and the White House are cheering this as a win, history will view this as a Pyrrhic victory," Schumer said. He also condemned Republicans for not entering the chamber during Schumer's speech on the floor, but waiting until he was done speaking. Conversely, Democrats sat through McConnell's speech.

"We always knew it was an uphill fight. No one had illusions that the president would be convicted," Schumer said, saying that Mr. Trump's impeachment "will never be erased from history."

By Grace Segers

McConnell to House: "Don't do partisan impeachments"

Speaking to reporters after the Senate acquitted Mr. Trump on both impeachment charges, McConnell said it's time for Congress to move on to other legislative business and leave decisions on who should serve the country up to the voters.

"It's time to move on," McConnell said. "This decision has been made. As far as I'm concerned, it's in the rearview mirror, and the consequences of it in terms of the future are up to the voters of the country to decide who they want to lead the government."

McConnell told reporters he doesn't doubt the House will continue to investigate Mr. Trump's policies and conduct, saying "That's sort of what Congress does." But warned the House should not pursue "partisan impeachments" in the future.

"I'm glad it ended the way it did," he said. "I hope the message to the House of Representatives: Don't do this again."

McConnell said impeachment has been a boon to Mr. Trump politically, citing his approval rating, and conversely a "political loser" for Democrats.

The Kentucky senator told reporters he was "surprised and disappointed" by Romney's decision to vote to convict Mr. Trump of abuse of power, but said Republicans had "great teamwork" and are positioned well for November as the GOP seeks to maintain the White House and control of the Senate.

By Melissa Quinn

Trump says he'll address "Impeachment Hoax" Thursday at noon

The president tweeted that he'll be making a public statement from the White House at noon on Thursday about his acquittal.

It's unclear whether he will take questions from reporters, or where at the White House he will issue the statement. 

By Kathryn Watson

Senate adjourns as court of impeachment

The Senate officially adjourned as a court of impeachment at 4:42 p.m., ending 14 days of proceedings over the course of nearly three weeks in the upper chamber.

"I move that the Senate sitting as a court of impeachment on the articles against Donald John Trump adjourn, sine die," McConnell said.

"Without objection, the motion is agreed to. The Senate sitting as a court of impeachment stands adjourned. Sine die," Roberts said, banging his gavel.

By Melissa Quinn

Senate awards chief justice with golden gavel after impeachment vote

Following the votes on the two articles of impeachment, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell presented Roberts with a golden gavel to commemorate his time presiding over the impeachment trial.

Roberts, McConnell said in remarks, presided with a "clear head, steady hand and the forbearance that this rare occasion demands."

"We know full well that his presence as his presiding officer came in addition to not instead of his day job across the street," McConnell said.

The golden gavel is typically awarded to senators who have spent more than 100 hours presiding over the chamber.

Chief Justice William Rehnquist was also presented with the golden gavel after presiding over the impeachment trial for President Bill Clinton in 1999.

By Melissa Quinn

Senate acquits Trump on second impeachment article

The Senate acquitted the president on the second impeachment charge, obstruction of Congress, by a vote of 53 guilty to 47 not guilty. Romney, who split from Republicans in convicting Mr. Trump on the first article, said the president is not guilty on the charge of obstruction of Congress.

"On this article of impeachment, 47 senators have pronounced Donald John Trump, president of the United States, guilty as charged. Fifty-three senators have pronounced him not guilty as charged. Two-thirds of the senators present not having pronounced him guilty, the Senate adjudges that the respondent, Donald John Trump, president of the United States, is not guilty as charged in the second article of impeachment," Roberts said.

By Melissa Quinn

Senate begins voting on Article II

After the second article of impeachment was read, senators started voting on whether to find Mr. Trump guilty or not guilty of obstruction of Congress.

"Senators, how say you? Is the respondent Donald John Trump guilty or not guilty?" Roberts said.

By Melissa Quinn

Senate acquits Trump on first impeachment article

The Senate acquitted the president on the first impeachment charge, abuse of power, by a vote of 52 not guilty to 48 guilty. 

"On this article of impeachment, 48 senators have pronounced Donald John Trump, president of the United States, guilty as charged. Fifty-two senators have pronounced him not guilty as charged. Two-thirds of the senators present not having pronounced him guilty, the Senate adjudges that the respondent, Donald John Trump, president of the United States, is not guilty as charged in the first article of impeachment," Chief Justice John Roberts said.

The clerk then read the second article on obstruction of Congress.

By Kathryn Watson

Vote begins on Article I

Chief Justice John Roberts returned to preside over proceedings at the Senate convened once again as a court of impeachment after three days of speeches by senators. He instructed the clerk to read the first article of impeachment before the final vote, which began at 4:09 p.m.

By Stefan Becket

McConnell says Senate will reject "incoherent case"

Minutes before the final votes, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delivered his final thoughts.

McConnell claimed Democrats simply want to "tear up" rules and "write new ones" because they lost the 2016 presidential race. McConnell claimed the "very real" issue of foreign interference was used to fuel "conspiracy theories." 

McConnell pointed to comments from House impeachment manager Adam Schiff about whether the upcoming election will be fully valid. The Senate majority leader claimed the articles of impeachment are an attack upon the presidency.

"Now for the final act the speaker of the House is trying to steal the Senate's sole power to render a verdict," McConnell said. 

"Perhaps she will tear up the verdict like she tore up the State of the Union address," he added. 

By Kathryn Watson

Manchin says he'll vote to convict Trump

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat, announced his decision to convict Mr. Trump on both impeachment charges, ending speculation as to whether he would break with his party in finding the president guilty.

"Voting whether or not to remove a sitting president has been a truly difficult decision, and after listening to the arguments presented by both sides, I have reached my conclusion reluctantly," Manchin said in a statement. "For the reasons above I must vote yes on the articles of impeachment. I take no pleasure in these votes, and am saddened this is the legacy we leave our children and grandchildren.I have always wanted this president, and every president to succeed, but I deeply love our country and must do what I think is best for the nation."

With Manchin's announcement, hopes from Republicans for a bipartisan acquittal of Mr. Trump have been dashed.

The West Virginia Democrat said he wanted a fair trial in the Senate and was "disappointed" the president, his legal team and Republican senators opted not to hear additional testimony from witnesses.

"Despite the false claim that a president can do no wrong, the president is not entitled to act with blatant disregard for an equal branch of government or use the superpower status of the United States to condition our support of democracy and our allies on any political favor," he said. "That is not who we are as a country."

Manchin called the impeachment proceedings in the Senate a "partisan episode" that "betrays the duties entrusted to this body by the Constitution."

By Melissa Quinn

Sinema says she'll vote to convict

Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat, told The Arizona Republic she will vote to convict Mr. Trump on both charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Sinema was among a small group of senators whose vote was unknown, and during the weekslong trial in the Senate, the Arizona Democrat offered few hints as to how she would vote.

Sinema explained her decision to find Mr. Trump guilty in a statement provided to the paper.

"Today, I vote to approve both articles, as my highest duty, and my greatest love, is to our nation's Constitution," Sinema said. "The facts are clear; security aid was withheld from Ukraine in an attempt to benefit the president's political campaign. While White House attorneys claim this behavior is not serious, it is dangerous to the fundamental principles of American democracy to use the power of the federal government for personal or political gain.

"Worse, they failed to assure the American people that this behavior will not continue and that future national security decisions will be made free from personal interests."

Only one Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, has yet to say how he will vote.

By Melissa Quinn

Romney calls vote "the most difficult decision I've ever made in my life"

Following his Senate floor speech announcing his impeachment vote, Fox News aired an interview with Romney that was taped earlier in the day. He reiterated his decision to split with his party and cast a vote to convict the president was "the most difficult decision I've ever made in my life."

"I've got broad enough shoulders to be able to weather personal changes in my career, political or otherwise," Romney told Fox's Chris Wallace. "But what I don't have is the capacity to ignore my conscience."

With his vote to convict the president of abusing his power to pressure Ukraine, Romney will stand alone as the only Republican to rebuke Mr. Trump's actions.

The Utah senator said he understands the blowback this vote will invite from Mr. Trump, his party, state and Republican voters, but felt he had to follow his conscience. While he may face political repercussions, Romney acknowledged he has already faced his worst political loss: the presidency in 2012.

"It's going to get very lonely," Romney said, adding that in the weeks since the trial started, he hasn't slept past 4 a.m.

Romney stressed that he is pleased with the state of the economy under Mr. Trump and agrees with the president "80% of the time." The two, he added, "get along fine."

"But I believe he made a very serious miscalculation of judgment, one that strikes at the very core of our Constitution," Romney said.

In the run-up to his announcement and this afternoon's vote, Romney said he discussed the decision with his wife, sons and daughters-in-law, all of whom "said you've got to do what you believe is right." He also said he reached out to the White House before the start of the trial in mid-January and asked for affidavits from former national security adviser John Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to raise reasonable doubt and prevent any Republican senator from having to cast a vote against Mr. Trump.

"They didn't do that," he said.

By Melissa Quinn

Republicans respond to Romney's defection

Republicans quickly condemned Romney's decision to vote to convict Mr. Trump. Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, Romney's niece, wrote on Twitter that "this is not the first time I have disagreed with Mitt, and I imagine it will not be the last."

"The bottom line is President Trump did nothing wrong, and the Republican Party is more united than ever behind him. I, along with the @GOP, stand with President Trump," McDaniel wrote.

Senator John Thune, the majority whip, said Mr. Trump and Romney had a "complicated relationship."

"Well, I think he and the President had a little bit of a complicated relationship to start with, you know, in the conference. He's somebody that we all know is a very independent person," Thune said.

Donald Trump Jr., the president's son, took a stronger stand, suggesting that Romney should be expelled from the party.

"Mitt Romney is forever bitter that he will never be POTUS. He was too weak to beat the Democrats then so he's joining them now. He's now officially a member of the resistance & should be expelled from the @GOP," Trump Jr. wrote on Twitter.

By Grace Segers

Romney will vote to convict Trump on abuse of power charge

Republican Senator Mitt Romney announces he will vote to convict Trump 07:26

Republican Senator Mitt Romney took to the Senate floor to announce he will join Democrats in voting to convict the president for abusing his power, becoming the sole GOP member to do so.

"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," Romney said.

His office clarified that Romney will vote to convict on the first article of impeachment for abuse of power, while voting to acquit on the second, for obstruction of Congress. 

The Utah senator and former GOP presidential nominee said the allegations against Mr. Trump "are very serious" and noted he took an oath as a senator to deliver impartial justice.

"My faith is at the heart of who I am. I take an oath before God as enormously consequential," Romney said.

Romney addressed arguments from the White House lawyers, dismissing their claim that Mr. Trump asked Ukraine to investigate the Bidens due to concerns about corruption.

"There's no question in my mind that were their names not Biden, the president would never have done what he did," he said.

Romney also acknowledged that his vote would likely be in the minority, and would not result in Mr. Trump's removal from office.

"I acknowledge that my verdict will not remove the president from office," Romney said. "Voters will make the final decision, just as the president's lawyers have implored."

"With my vote, I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty," Romney continued, saying history would remember this vote.

Romney was one of only two GOP senators to vote for witnesses and documents. Senator Susan Collins, the other Republican, announced Tuesday that she would vote to acquit the president, although she called Mr. Trump's actions "inappropriate."

By Grace Segers

Sherrod Brown says Republicans have told him they're worried how Trump will act after acquittal

Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio said he has heard from Republicans behind closed doors that they are worried about Mr. Trump's conduct after the impeachment trial if he is acquitted on the two articles of impeachment.

"If we don't hold this president accountable for his abuse of office, if no one on this side of the aisle, no one, has the backbone to stand up and say, 'Stop,' there is no question it'll get worse," Brown said of Republicans during his speech on the Senate floor. "How do I know that? I've heard it from a number of my Republican colleagues, when privately they'll tell me, 'Yes, we're concerned about what the president's going to do if he's exonerated."

Brown said some Republican senators have told him they're "troubled" by Mr. Trump's behavior.

"You know he's reckless. You know he lies. You know what he did was wrong, and I have heard Republican after Republican after Republican tell me that privately," he said. "If you acknowledge that, if you've said it to me, if you've said it to your family, if you've said it to your staff, if you've just said it to yourself, I implore you, we have no choice but to convict. What are my colleagues afraid of?"

Despite Brown's attempt to persuade his GOP colleagues to rebuke Mr. Trump and vote to remove him from office, the president is headed toward acquittal on the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

By Melissa Quinn

Feinstein backs Manchin's censure proposal

Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein's office confirmed to CBS News that she will support a proposal by Senator Joe Manchin to censure the president over his July 25 call with the president of Ukraine. Manchin has not yet revealed whether he will vote to acquit the president, but suggested a vote to censure him on Monday.

However, many Republicans have indicated they're uninterested in supporting a censure resolution. Senator Lamar Alexander, who has admitted that Mr. Trump's call was "inappropriate," has said that he would not support a censure vote.

By Grace Segers

Doug Jones announces he will vote to convict Trump

Senator Doug Jones says he'll vote to convict Trump on both charges 13:34

Democratic Senator Doug Jones of Alabama will vote to convict Mr. Trump on both articles of impeachment, he said in a written statement and a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday morning.

Jones is one if four senators whose vote was being closely watched. He is running for reelection in deep-red Alabama.

"In keeping with my oaths, I resolved that throughout this process I would keep an open mind and hear all of the evidence before making a final decision on the charges against the president," he said in his written statement. "For months, I have been studying the facts of this case exhaustively. I have read thousands of pages of transcripts, watched videos of testimony, taken copious notes, reviewed history and precedents and discussed this case with colleagues, staff, and constituents, in addition to having participated in the Senate trial over the past two weeks. 

"After many sleepless nights, I have reluctantly concluded that the evidence is sufficient to convict the president for both abuse of power and obstruction of Congress."

Jones said he is "acutely aware" of the precedents the impeachment trial will set for both future presidents and Congresses, including that a "fair trial in the Senate does not include witnesses and documentary evidence." He also said he is "deeply troubled by the partisan nature" of the proceedings.

"We must find a way to rise above the things that divide us and find the common good," Jones said.

The Alabama Democrat said he worked to "see through the fog of partisanship" and was troubled by the arguments from Mr. Trump's legal team. The evidence, he said, "clearly proves" the president used his office to pressure a foreign government to interfere in the 2020 presidential election and agreed his actions were an abuse of power.

Jones conceded the second article, obstruction of Congress, gave him pause, but said he believes Mr. Trump "deliberately and unconstitutionally obstructed Congress by refusing to cooperate" with the House's investigation."

"This has been a divisive time for our country, but I think it has nonetheless been an important constitutional process for us to follow," he said. "As this chapter of history draws to a close, one thing is clear: our country deserves better than this. We must find a way to come together, to set aside partisan differences, and to focus on what we have in common as Americans. We are facing great challenges both domestically and internationally, but it remains my firm belief that united, we can conquer them and remain the greatest hope for people around the world."

By Melissa Quinn

Republicans predict bipartisan vote to acquit Trump

Republicans are expressing optimism about this afternoon's vote that will bring a close to the Senate's impeachment trial and believe a handful of Democrats will break with their party to acquit the president.

GOP Congressman Mike Johnson of Louisiana told reporters during a weekly press conference he expects a "bipartisan acquittal."

"No one knows the final vote tally yet but we expect that at least two, maybe three Democrats will come across the aisle and do the right thing and vote to acquit the president," said Johnson, who is a member of a team of GOP House members tapped by the White House to publicly defend Mr. Trump during the trial.

Vice President Mike Pence echoed that prediction in an interview with "Fox & Friends" on Wednesday morning.

"The only bipartisan vote in the House of Representatives was against the articles of impeachment, and we expect a bipartisan vote in the United States Senate today," Pence said.

By Melissa Quinn

Nadler says House committees will subpoena Bolton

Speaking to reporters Wednesday morning, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said House lawmakers would subpoena former national security adviser John Bolton in the near future. Bolton declined to appear before the House committees last year and said he would resist a subpoena, but eventually said he would be willing to speak before the Senate in the impeachment trial.

Nadler, who was one of the House impeachment managers, also cast doubt on Vice President Mike Pence's assertion that the vote to acquit Mr. Trump would be "bipartisan."

"I don't know what he means by bipartisan, but, I mean, it's clear beyond any doubt that the case against the president was proven," Nadler said.

By Grace Segers

Senators give final speeches ahead of vote

Senators took to the Senate floor to give speeches explaining their decision to acquit or convict Mr. Trump in the hours ahead of the final vote at 4 p.m. Four critical senators whose votes are unknown — Republican Mitt Romney and Democrats Doug Jones, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema — are expected to speak today.

Senators are limited to 10 minutes to explain their votes, but several have exceeded the time limit.

By Grace Segers

4 senators to watch ahead of the Senate impeachment vote

While senators still have a few hours to make speeches on the floor explaining why they will vote to acquit or convict Mr. Trump, all eyes are on four members who could split from their parties in the highly anticipated vote: Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, and Democratic Senators Doug Jones of Alabama, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

Romney was one of just two Republicans who voted to call additional witnesses last week and has called Mr. Trump's conduct "wrong and appalling." A vote to convict Mr. Trump on either of the two articles of impeachment would make him the lone Republican to break with the president.

Jones, meanwhile, is up for reelection in a deeply red state, while Sinema hasn't given a clear indication of how she'll vote. 

Manchin is the only of the four to have spoken on the Senate floor following closing arguments Monday, though he said he remained undecided. During his speech, the Democratic senator, who represents a state Mr. Trump won by 42 points in 2016, said he sees "no path to the 67 votes" needed to remove the president from office and proposed censuring Mr. Trump to show the Senate's objection to his conduct.

Manchin has also broken with his party in key votes, including in 2018 when he voted to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

By Melissa Quinn
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