Explained: Why Donald Trump has been cleared of all impeachment charges
The White House lambasted “the sham impeachment attempt” and claimed Trump had been completely vindicated after the Senate voted for his acquittal.
In an unsurprising move, the US Senate cleared President Donald Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress on Wednesday, marking an end to a congressional bid to oust him from office that bitterly divided the US.
Fellow Republicans rallied to protect Trump nine months before he asks voters in the country to give him a second White House term.
Trump was acquitted largely along party lines on two articles of impeachment approved by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives that accused him of abusing his power by pressing Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, a contender for the Democratic nomination to face him in the November 3 election, and obstructing Congress' attempts to investigate the matter.
The final day of the Senate’s impeachment trial was not without suspense as Republican Senator Mitt Romney broke with party and voted to convict the President for abuse of power. The Senate voted 52-48 to acquit Trump of abuse of power. It then voted 53-47 to acquit him of obstruction of Congress.
The businessman-turned-politician, 73, survived only the third presidential impeachment trial in the US history - just like the two other impeached Presidents - in his turbulent presidency’s darkest chapter. Trump now plunges into an election season that promises to further polarize the country.
Here’s what led to Trump’s acquittal
The President’s apparent popularity:
Trump's acquittal in the Senate is a reflection of his popularity among Republicans. He has never been more popular with Republicans (or more unpopular with Democrats). According to a poll by Gallup this week, 94% of Republicans approve of Trump's performance in office. This figure has kept on rising despite his impeachment trial.
Gallup also reported that 89% of Republicans approved of Trump during his third year in office - this made him the second most popular President of all time among his own party members.
But Trump's popularity doesn't mean his supporters believe he is blameless in the impeachment saga. In a poll conducted by the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research last week, only 54% of Republicans believed he had done nothing wrong.
Republicans have a majority in Senate
Republicans in the Senate have a majority of 53 to 47, meaning they control the chamber and were able to direct the terms of the trial.
During the trial, senators had to vote on whether to admit witnesses, and the majority opted not to. If four Republicans of the lot had gone the other way, witnesses may have been allowed -- not least former national security adviser John Bolton -- whose evidence may well have undermined Trump's case.
Four Republican senators did indeed waver, including Romney. But in the end, all Republicans sans Romney voted with their party, no witnesses were called and the trial wrapped after only 11 days.
67 Senators out of 100 were needed for conviction
Sixty-seven -- this is the number that ensured Trump was always going to get off. A conviction would have happened only had two-thirds of senators - 67 - supported it.
This would have required 20 Republican senators to vote for their President's conviction, which didn’t happen.
$46m raised by Trump’s campaign
This is the amount of money the Trump campaign said it raised in the last quarter of 2019, a huge figure it said was down largely to Trump supporters reacting to the impeachment proceedings, the BBC reported.
With the trial behind him, Trump is now free to concentrate on his campaign for re-election.
He said he would deliver a public statement at noon (1700 GMT) on Thursday “to discuss our Country’s VICTORY on the Impeachment Hoax!”
In a statement, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham lambasted “the sham impeachment attempt” and claimed Trump had been completely vindicated after the Senate voted for his acquittal.