The months-long impeachment and Senate trial of President Donald Trump came to an anticlimactic end Wednesday afternoon with acquittal on both articles.
But there was drama on the Senate floor when each senator’s name was called, and standing at their desks, they pronounced Trump “guilty” or “not guilty” as required by Senate rules on each of the two articles alleging “abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress.”
The Constitution requires “[N]o Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two-thirds of the Members present.”
Trump is only the third president in U.S. history to face an impeachment trial, but largely because Republicans have a 53-47 advantage in the Senate, his fate has been mostly a foregone conclusion since even before the proceedings began.
Earlier Wednesday, in a dramatic moment on the Senate floor, Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney announced he would vote to convict Trump, the first to break ranks with his party and the first senator ever to say he would find a president of his own party guilty.
Here is how the day unfolded.
5:47 p.m. Pence on impeachment: ‘It’s over, America’
Addressing supporters in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, Vice President Mike Pence said, “You know, it’s amazing to think about it, after months of a sham investigation, a partisan impeachment, it’s over, America.”
Pence also praised the president’s State of the Union address and joked about Speaker Pelosi.
“I got the feeling the woman sitting next to me didn’t like the speech quite as much as I did,” he said, prompting boos from supporters attending the “Women for Trump” event.
–ABC News’ Ben Gittleson
5:23 p.m. Schumer says Trump’s acquittal is ‘virtually valueless’
“Now that our Republican colleagues have rejected a fair trial — the truth — there’s a giant asterisk right next to the President’s acquittal,” Schumer said to reporters following McConnell’s remarks. “And it means that his acquittal is virtually valueless.”
“I believe the American people will realize that this was one of the largest cover ups in the history of our nation. I believe the American people will know who stood in the way of truth, who were afraid of the facts, who covered up. And make no mistake about it, the drip drip drip of evidence is going to keep coming out with each new revelation. Republicans are going to have to answer for their votes,” he added.
5:07 p.m. Trump to make public statement
On Twitter, the president said that he would make a public statement from the White House to “discuss our Country’s VICTORY on the Impeachment Hoax!”
4:59 p.m. McConnell on ‘political impact’ of impeachment trial
McConnell spoke to reporters following the Senate’s acquittal of the president and offered his theory that Speaker Pelosi “did not want to do this.”
“I’m pretty sure she did not want to do this. But the fact that she was pulled into this direction, against what appeared to be political instincts a year ago, underscores that this is a purely political exercise,” he said.
“So we have reached the conclusion. I think this was a thoroughly political exercise from the beginning to the end. And the final irony of it all is the speaker was right in the beginning. Because here we are today in a position to judge the political impact of this,” McConnell said. “The president has his highest approval rating since he has been in office,” he added. “I’m not sitting here predicting what will be the biggest issue in November, but I will tell you this, right now this is a political loser for them. They initiated it, they thought this was a great idea, and at least for the short term, it has been a colossal political mistake.”
McConnell also offered a word of warning.
“I have a message to the House of Representatives: Don’t do this again,” he said.
4:49 p.m. Trump tweets video after Senate acquittal
President Trump’s first post-vote tweet is a video – which he has shared previously – depicting him with yard signs showing him being president “4EVA.”
— ABC News’ Ben Gittleson at the White House
4:47 p.m. Romney makes a quick exit
The House managers were escorted out by Sens. Graham, Leahy, Feinstein and Braun. The Democratic lawyers didn’t shake hands with the White House lawyers, as they have before.
Sen. Menendez sat in his seat looking pensive, tapping his pen on his notebook before opening it and jotting something down.
Romney just looked straight ahead, no emotion, the whole time. He made a quick dash for the exit following the vote.
–ABC News’ Katherine Faulders
4:41 p.m. Roberts gavels Senate out as court of impeachment
The chief justice thanks the Senate for making him feel welcome and helping him conduct his role as presiding officer.
“I would like to begin by thanking the Majority Leader and the Democratic Leader for their support as I attempted to carry out ill-defined responsibilities in an unfamiliar setting,” Roberts says. “They ensured that I had the wise counsel of the Senate itself through its secretary and her legislative staff. I am especially grateful to the parliamentarian and her deputy for their unfailing patience and keen insight. I am likewise grateful to the Sergeant at Arms and his staff for the assistance and many courtesies that they extended during my period of required residency. And thank you all for making my presence here as comfortable as possible..
“As I depart the chamber, I do so with an invitation to visit the court. By long tradition and in memory of the 135 years we sat in this building, we keep the front row of the gallery in our courtroom open for members of Congress who might want to drop by to see an argument — or to escape one. I also depart with sincere good wishes as we carry out our common commitment to the constitution through the distinct roles assigned to us by that charter. You have been generous hosts, and I look forward to seeing you again under happier circumstances.”
Roberts then gavels the Senate, as a court of impeachment, to a close, ending the shortest presidential impeachment trial ever.
4:32 p.m. Senate acquits Trump on second article of impeachment
The Senate votes to acquit Trump on the second article of impeachment — obstruction of Congress — by a vote of 53-47.
Chief Justice Roberts announces the vote from the dais, “On this article of impeachment, 47 senators have pronounced Donald John Trump, President of the trump, guilty as charged. 53 senators have announced him not guilty as charged. Two-thirds of the senators present not having pronounced him guilty, the Senate of judges that respondent Donald John Trump, president of the trump, is not guilty as charged in the second article of impeachment,” Justice Roberts says.
“It is, therefore, ordered and adjudged that the said Donald John Trump be and he is here by acquitted of the charges in said articles.”
He then prepares to gavel the Senate, sitting as a court of impeachment, to a historic close.
4:18 p.m. Senate votes to acquit Trump on first article of impeachment
Chief Justice John Roberts announces that the Senate has voted to acquit President Trump on the first article of impeachment — abuse of power — by a vote of 52-48.
GOP Sen. Mitt Romney is the only Republican to break ranks with his party, with a vote of guilty. Three closely-watched Democrats from red states — Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — vote with their party to convict the president on abuse of power.
“On this article of impeachment, 48 senators have pronounced Donald John Trump, President of the trump, 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 of judges that are respondent Donald John Trump, President of the trump is not guilty as charged in the first article of impeachment,” Roberts says.
ABC News’ Katherine Faulders, inside the Senate chamber, says the public seats in the chamber were packed — unlike any other time during the trial — yet it’s so quiet you can hear a pin drop.
3:58 p.m. McConnell: ‘The framers built the Senate to keep temporary rage from doing permanent damage’
“The Framers predicted that factional fever might dominate house majorities from time to time,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says in the final floor speech before the Senate vote.”They knew the country would need a firewall to keep partisan flames from scorching, scorching, our republic. So, they created the senate. Out of necessity, James Madison wrote, of some stable institution in the government. Today we will fulfill this founding purpose. We will reject this incoherent case that comes nowhere near justifying the first presidential removal in history. This partisan impeachment will end today. But I fear the threat to our institutions may not,” McConnell says.
He continues, “Because this episode is one of a symptom of something much deeper. In the last three years, the opposition to this president has come to revolve around a truly dangerous concept,” McConnell says. “Normally when a party loses an election, it accepts feat. It reflects and retools. But not this time.”
“The framers built the Senate to keep temporary rage from doing permanent damage,” McConnell says.
3:56 p.m. Democrat Manchin announces he’ll vote to convict
“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,” Manchin, from the red state of West Virginia, says in a statement just before the Senate votes.
3:47 p.m. Democrat Sinema will vote to convict
ABC News’ Mariam Khan reports from Capitol Hill:
“Today, I vote to approve both articles, as my highest duty, and my greatest love, is to our nation’s Constitution, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, from the red state of Arizona, announces in a statement.
“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,” Sinema says.
3:35 p.m. Schumer: Trump ‘sought to cheat the people’
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer gives his final remarks before the historic vote.
“The president sought to cheat the people out of a free and fair election,” Schumer argues.
Invoking the Founders, Schumer says, “Madison was right. Washington was right. There is no greater subversion of our democracy than for powers outside of our borders to determine elections within them. If Americans believe that they don’t determine their senator, their governor, their president, but rather some foreign potentate does, that’s the beginning of the end of the democracy,” he says.
“The verdict of this kangaroo court,” he says, is “meaningless.”
“Some sought to portray the second article of impeachment as less important than the first. It is not. The second article of impeachment is necessary if Congress is to ever hold president accountable again. The consequences of sanctioning such categorical obstruction of Congress would be far reaching, and they will be irreparable,” Schumer says.
Schumer goes through a list of what he calls “Dershowitzian arguments” which Schumer says “are the excuses of a child caught in a lie. Each explanation more outlandish and desperate than the last. It would be laughable — if not for the fact that the cumulative effect of these arguments would render not just this president but all presidents immune from impeachment and therefore above the law.”
“Alone, each of the defenses advanced by the president’s counsel comes close to being preposterous. Together they are as dangerous to the republic as this president, a fig leaf so large as to excuse any presidential misconduct. Arguments were found to make him a king.”
“Let future generations know that only a fraction of the senate swallowed these fantasies. The rest of us condemned them to the ash heap of history. And the derision of first-year law students everywhere,” he continues.
Earlier Wednesday — there was a partial answer to one of the few remaining open questions: whether any Democrats from red states where Trump is popular will side with the GOP majority on acquittal, which would allow the president to claim a bipartisan “exoneration.”
Democratic Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama announced he would vote to convict Trump on both articles of impeachment Wednesday morning.
“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,” he said in a statement and then elaborated in a floor speech. “I will not shrink from my duty to defend the Constitution and do impartial justice,” he said.
Democratic leaders have argued that, because the Senate voted again their demands for witnesses and other other evidence, that the trial was not “real” and therefore an acquittal vote is meaningless.
As senators on Wednesday continued to make floor speeches explaining how and why they intended to vote, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona had yet to be heard from.
Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia was asked by reporters whether he would say more before the vote after proposing Monday that his fellow senators consider censuring Trump instead of convicting him, but his idea has gained little, if any, support in the GOP-controlled Senate.
He brushed off reporters’ attempts to learn how he’ll vote on acquittal, telling them they would “find out at 4 p.m. today.”
He said he hasn’t let anyone in leadership know how he’ll vote and criticized reporters for asking. “Do you know where I’m from?” he asked one reporter.
“It’s a very big decision. It’s a very serious decision. I’ve taken it very, very seriously,” he said.
“I agonized. It’s been very difficult for me. “I feel very strong about the decision I will make. It’s going to be a very, very personal decision. It’s very difficult.”
Republicans Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine have called for Trump’s acquittal — even after raising questions about Trump’s conduct — but also slamming the House impeachment drive as rushed and the Senate’s handling of the trial, including rejecting hearing from witnesses.
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“I do not believe that the House has met its burden of showing that the president’s conduct, however flawed, warrants the extreme step of immediate removal from office, nor does the record support the assertion by the House managers that the president must not remain in office one moment longer,” Collins said in her Senate floor speech.
But while she has said his conduct was “wrong,” Trump has continued to insist that his July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president pressuring Ukraine to investigate the Bidens was “perfect” and that not only has he done nothing wrong, but instead was legitimately fighting corruption.
Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee another Republican Democrats had pinned their hopes on, announced on the Senate floor Wednesday morning that he, too, would vote to acquit the president, saying he can’t be removed from office “simply for actions that are inappropriate” and that it should be up to the people to decide in the next election.
Minority Leader Schumer has argued that the Senate will rue the day it failed, in his view, to hold Trump accountable for his pressure campaign against Ukraine to get an investigation of the Bidens for his personal political benefit.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would be the last to speak before the vote.
“We must vote to reject the House abuse of power, vote to protect our institutions, vote to reject new precedents that would reduce the framers’ design to rubble. Vote to keep factional fever from boiling over and scorching our republic. I urge every one of our colleagues to cast the vote on the common good clearly required, vote to acquit the president of these charges,” he said Tuesday.
Once Chief Justice John Roberts announces the vote, the impeachment trial will end, going down in history as the shortest ever.
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