Washington (CBS News)— 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 to side 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 to decide who they want to lead the country.”