AP — President Donald Trump on Wednesday was found not guilty of the first article of impeachment, abuse of power, putting him on the verge of acquittal by the Senate as the third presidential impeachment trial in American history comes to a close.
Senators sworn to do “impartial justice” are rising to stand at their desks and state their votes for the roll call – “guilty” or “not guilty” – as Chief Justice John Roberts presided.
On the first article of impeachment, Trump is charged with abusing his power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden, in what House Democrats said political quid pro quo for personal political gain. He withheld U.S. security aid as leverage over the ally confronting a hostile Russia, though the money was eventually released.
The Senate is set to vote next on the second charge, obstruction of Congress, over the administration’s defiance of the House’s requests for testimony in the ensuing probe.
Trump insisted throughout the proceedings that he did nothing wrong, and the president is eager for vindication as he launches his reelection bid.
The president’s legal defense said the articles of impeachment approved last year by the House did not rise to grounds for conviction in the Senate trial.
The outcome caps months of remarkable impeachment proceedings launched in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s House and ending in Mitch McConnell’s Senate, reflective of the nation’s unrelenting partisan divide three years into the Trump presidency.
Few senators are straying in essentially party-line votes. There was nowhere near the two-thirds support necessary in the Republican-held Senate for the Constitution’s bar of high crimes and misdemeanors to convict and remove the president from office.