Senate Acquits Trump
President Donald Trump has been acquitted by the U.S. Senate, ending a brief yet acrimonious impeachment trial.
Senators voted largely along party lines to acquit the president of the abuse of power and obstruction of Congress charges levied against him by Congressional Democrats, rejecting allegations that Trump’s reported deal with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and managing of Congress’ subpoenas meritted his removal from the White House.
In the final vote, the Senate voted 52-48 against convicting the president on the abuse of power charges laid out in Article I of the impeachment trial and 53-47 against Article II, which charged that Trump obstructed Congress, falling well short of the two-thirds majority required by the U.S. Constitution to convict and immediately remove a sitting president from office.
Notably, Utah Senator and former 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney broke ranks with the GOP to join Democrats in voting to convict President Trump on abuse of power charges, making him the first Senator in U.S. history to vote in favor of convicting a sitting president from their own party facing impeachment proceedings. The Utah Republican did vote not guilty on the accompanying obstruction of Congress charge laid against Trump.
Moderate Democrats considered key swing votes in the impeachment trial, such as Doug Jones of Alabama, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, all voted in favor of convicting Trump. Likewise, swing-vote Republican senators like Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Susan Collins of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska all voted to acquit the president on both counts,
The verdict to acquit Trump marks the finality of the four-month impeachment process that stoked partisan tensions in Washington in recent weeks. Though the trial is over, these tensions seem unlikely to subside anytime soon.
The president tweeted “VICTORY on the Impeachment Hoax” after the Senate’s acquittal vote, later criticizing Democrats as “dishonest and corrupt” at the National Prayer Breakfast event.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, however, stated at a new conference after the impeachment vote that Trump was “impeached forever, no matter what he says… History will always record that you were impeached for undermining the security of our country, jeopardizing the integrity of our elections, and violating the Constitution.”
For just the third time in American history, a sitting president faced an impeachment trial in the Senate. President Donald Trump stood accused of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. If the Senate reached a two-thirds majority, the 45th President of the United States would have been the first to officially be removed from office. We break down the Democratic Party-held House’s case against the president and the impeachment process below.
The Day Before: Robert Mueller’s Testimony
The President likely woke up on Thursday, July 25th feeling ecstatic about the path of his administration. The economy continued to roar along for a record 10th year, the unemployment rate remained the lowest in decades, and the President had just dodged a major bullet.
One day before his infamous call with Ukrainian President-Elect Volodymyr Zelensky, Robert Mueller testified before Congress that his investigation produced credible evidence that the president had possibly obstructed justice, but could not find credible evidence that collusion with Russia during the runup to the 2016 election occurred.
Robert Mueller conceded that indictments could be considered after Trump’s presidency, but a sitting president cannot be indicted for criminal wrongdoing alone. After years of speculation that he would be impeached, Mueller’s testimony essentially closed the door on linking Trump with Russian collusion.
Not even 24 hours later, the Trump presidency would forever change during one routine call with Ukraine.
Trump’s Call With President Zelensky
At around 9 am on Thursday, the president called Zelensky to congratulate him on his recent presidential win. Listening on the call as per standard protocol were a handful of senior officials including Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman.
As the call progressed, the president continued to remind Zelensky that the United States contributes more “effort and time” in Ukraine than other allies. President Zelensky agreed and towards the end of the call, proposed Ukraine buy more Javelin missiles (an anti-tank weapon) from the United States. President Trump responded by asking for a favor in return for the military equipment.
From the official transcript released by the White House: “I would like you to do us a favor though… I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike,” the president continues, “the other thing, there’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son [Hunter Biden], that [Vice President Biden] stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great.”
Regardless of whether the favor was returned, the Trump Administration did release nearly $400 million worth of military aid and support to Ukraine in September of 2019. The aid was reportedly suspended while the federal government determined whether President Zelensky was aligned with the U.S. and NATO or Russia. President Zelensky claimed in a media inquiry that he did not feel pressured by President Trump to comply with his requests.
What Did Trump Specifically Want From Zelensky?
The president’s interest with Crowdstrike stems from the cybersecurity company’s influence across the globe. Crowdstrike provides cybersecurity software to many of the largest companies in the world as well as numerous nations. The president wanted Zelensky to investigate claims that Ukraine used Crowdstrike’s proprietary software to meddle in the 2016 U.S. election rather than Russia.
President Trump’s second favor involves former Vice President Joe Biden’s son. In 2014, Hunter Biden was hired by the Ukrainian company Burisma Holdings (one of the largest natural gas producers in Ukraine) to consult on best practices. At the time, Brusima founder and former politician Mykola Zlochevsky was under investigation for money laundering. Biden served on the board of Burisma Holdings until his term expired in April 2019 and reportedly received up to $50,000 per month.
Due to Vice President Biden’s major role in Ukraine, many in Biden’s own law firm, Boies, Schiller & Flexner, as well as senior figures in the Obama Administration raised concerns over a possible conflict of interest. Further complicating matters, Vice President Biden joined numerous Western leaders in calling for the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin.
The Trump Administration claims that Biden had a vested interest in Shokin’s dismissal in order to protect his son from corruption charges. With the 2020 election less than a year away, evidence that Joe Biden used his office for financial gain would have a tremendous impact on his campaign. Many experts believe the former Vice President is the Democratic Party’s best shot at defeating President Trump.
After the call ended around 9:30 am, Lt. Col. Vindman contacted National Security Council attorney John Eisenberg seemingly alarmed by the assumed quid-pro-quo conversation that took place.
Who Blew the Whistle on the Trump Phone Call?
While Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman may have initially set the investigation in motion, he was not the eventual whistleblower. In his congressional testimony on November 19th, Vindman confirmed that he discussed the nature of the phone call with two government insiders: State Department official George Kent and an unknown person within the intelligence community.
When pressed by Republican Congressman Devin Nunes to divulge who the unknown person was, Congressman Schiff ceased the line of questioning by reminding Nunes that “we need to protect the whistleblower”. Under the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989, if a federal government employee reports a wrongdoing including an illegal activity, gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety, federal employees cannot take retaliatory action or threaten to take retaliatory action against the whistleblower. Congressman Schiff feared that releasing the intelligence operatives name would leave him or her open to reprisal.
On August 12th, the whistleblower sent a letter to Senator Richard Burr, Chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, and Congressman Adam Schiff, Chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. In the letter, the whistleblower detailed the information that had been shared with him.
From the declassified complaint letter: “I have received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election. This interference includes, among other things, pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the President’s main domestic political rivals.”
The whistleblower is reported to be a CIA analyst and holdover from the Obama Administration. The CIA analyst reportedly operated in Ukraine. Sources divulged to RealClearInvestigations that the whistleblower and another Obama holdover, Sean Misko, were overheard by numerous officials expressing anger over the president’s “America First” foregin policy initiative and openly plotted to remove the president from office.
The Democrat Party’s Position For Impeachment
On Monday December 16th, the House Judiciary Committee released its case for impeachment. The committee filed two articles of impeachment against the president: The president abused the power of his office by pressuring President Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden ahead of the 2020 election and the president obstructed Congress by trying to interfere with the House’s investigation into the matter.
How Does Impeachment Work in the United States?
The framers of the Constitution opted for an impeachment clause to protect against a tyrannical dictator. The two specific crimes that can lead to impeachment are treason and bribery, but a president can also be charged with “high crimes and misdemeanors”.
Follow our infographic below to learn more about the impeachment process:
The History of Impeachment in the United States
The House of Representatives has initiated impeachment proceedings over 60 times. Less than one-third of impeachments have ever led to a removal from office and never in the case of the presidency (Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached).
All eight convictions in American history have occurred during the impeachment trials of federal judges. In total, 15 federal judges, three presidents, a cabinet secretary, and a U.S. Senator have been impeached by the House. Aside from Donald Trump, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton are the only other presidents to be impeached in the House.
Follow AskMrFranchise’s daily impeachment updates above:
The information in this article was gathered and fact-checked by the editorial team at AskMrFranchise.com. AskMrFranchise is the premier online source of business and franchise data. It is the SUPER SEARCH for business opportunities. AskMrFranchise offers key analytics and data, and based upon specified criteria, it matches users to apt opportunities. Our website uses key information to eliminate guesswork from the equation and helps narrow down the best options. Its thesis is that information results in innovation, so that is its focus. Visitors to AskMrFranchise.com can find franchises for sale, top franchise opportunities per industry, franchise news, case studies, and much more.