Trump Impeachment Acquittal a Watershed Moment for Him, US

U.S. President Donald Trump’s acquittal Wednesday on impeachment charges is a watershed moment in his presidency, exonerating him of wrongdoing just nine months ahead of next November’s national election when he is seeking a second term in the White House. He was found not guilty on the first charge of abuse of power, 52-48; and found not guilty on a second charge of obstruction of Congress, 53-47.Trump’s acquittal likely will have huge long-term implications on politics and the balance of power in Washington with the president’s hand strengthened heading into the campaign season. Only one Republican, Senator Mitt Romney, the losing 2012 Republican presidential candidate, voted to convict the Republican Trump on the first charge of abuse of power, assailing his conduct as “wrong, egregiously wrong”. On the second charge of obstruction of Congress, Romney voted not guilty.Trump is in a position now to make use of Wednesday’s acquittal to his advantage ahead of the election, even as a collection of national polls shows he remains an unpopular president with a job approval rating in the mid-40% range in a politically divided country.”It’s amazing what I’ve done,” he wrote on Twitter as his impeachment trial neared the end, “the most of any President in the first three years (by far), considering that for three years I’ve been under phony political investigations and the Impeachment Hoax! KEEP AMERICA GREAT!”It’s amazing what I’ve done, the most of any President in the first three years (by far), considering that for three years I’ve been under phony political investigations and the Impeachment Hoax! KEEP AMERICA GREAT!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) TTrump adamantly and repeatedly insisted there was no link between the two elements central to his impeachment, denying that he was demanding a reciprocal quid pro quo deal with Kyiv, the military assistance in exchange for the Biden investigations. He claimed the “us” in his request to Zelenskiy referred to the United States, not him personally.He described his request to Zelenskiy for the Biden investigations as “perfect.” His Republican defenders said that Trump wanted corruption, broadly speaking, investigated in Ukraine, not just the Bidens, although Trump never raised the issue of corruption generally in the phone call with Zelenskiy, according to a rough transcript of the call released by the White House. Trump supporters also noted that the president released the aid after a 55-day delay without Zelenskiy opening any investigations of the Bidens, proof, they say, that the president had not carried out a quid pro quo deal with Ukraine.But Democratic lawmakers in both the House of Representatives and Senate contended that Trump, despite his denials, had engaged in a deal with Ukraine, seeking to help himself politically while endangering the national security of the United States by denying an ally, Ukraine, vital military aid in its fight against Russia. It was a sentiment that only one Republican, Romney, now a senator from the western state of Utah after losing the 2012 presidential contest, agreed with.Through weeks of testimony in the House impeachment inquiry, however, a string of government officials, some of them appointed by Trump, said they came to understand that Trump wanted announcement of the Biden investigations before the military aid would be released. But, as Trump’s Republican defenders often noted, they had not talked directly with Trump and only assumed he wanted the investigations before the Ukraine assistance would be released.That evidentiary shortcoming possibly changed, however, in the last two weeks as news surfaced of a claim in a new book by former Trump national security adviser John Bolton. In his as-yet unpublished manuscript, Bolton said that Trump told him directly last August that he wanted the Biden investigations before he would release the aid. A month later, Trump ousted Bolton from his key White House position as the two feuded over a host of foreign policy issues.Trump denied Bolton’s Ukraine claim, but House impeachment managers prosecuting the case against the president fought to have Bolton testify at the Senate trial. Schiff, the lead impeachment manager, said the trial could not be considered fair without testimony and Ukraine-related documents they wanted to subpoena from the White House, the State Department and the Defense Department.Trump assailed his one-time security aide and complained again about the Democrats’ conduct of the impeachment investigation and trial.”No matter how many witnesses you give the Democrats, no matter how much information is given, like the quickly produced Transcripts, it will NEVER be enough for them,” Trump tweeted. “They will always scream UNFAIR. The Impeachment Hoax is just another political CON JOB!”No matter how many witnesses you give the Democrats, no matter how much information is given, like the quickly produced Transcripts, it will NEVER be enough for them. They will always scream UNFAIR. The Impeachment Hoax is just another political CON JOB!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 29, 2020But Schiff needed the votes of four Republican senators to join with 47 Democrats in the 100-member Senate for a simple majority calling Bolton as a witness. In the end, all but two senators of the 53-seat Senate Republican majority stood with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a staunch Trump ally, and voted against hearing witnesses, including Bolton.With that large hurdle cleared, McConnell moved toward the final stages of the trial on the two impeachment articles, reaching the conclusion with Trump’s acquittal on Wednesday.
 



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