In an outcome long expected despite steadily growing evidence of presidential malfeasance, the U.S. Senate voted to acquit Donald Trump on the two articles of impeachment presented by the U.S. House. On the first article, alleging abuse of power, the vote was 52 “not guilty” and 48 “guilty.” All 47 Democrats, plus Republican senator Mitt Romney, voted to convict.
On the second article, alleging obstruction of justice, Romney joined other Republicans in voting “not guilty,” so that vote was 53 “not guilty” and 47 “guilty.” A two-thirds majority vote on either one of the articles would be required to remove Trump from office.
Republican senators and Trump’s attorneys may now regret the many comments they made during the impeachment trial referring to the vote against impeachment in the House as “partisan,” since a single Democrat (Collin Peterson of Minnesota) voted with the GOP. Now, the vote to convict Trump on Article I is bipartisan thanks to Romney’s vote.
Trump thereby became the first of the three impeached presidents to lose a member of his own party in the Senate. Andrew Johnson, a career Democrat who ran as a fusion Union Party running mate to Abraham Lincoln and then sharply broke with Republicans, was acquitted by a solid bloc of 12 Democrats along with seven Republicans. Bill Clinton was acquitted by a coalition of 45 Democrats and 10 Republicans on one article of impeachment, and the vote was 50–50 on the second article.
With the impeachment saga wrapped up, appeals by both parties to a higher court of public opinion will now play out between now and November. It’s notable that seven Democrats from states carried by Trump in 2016 (Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Doug Jones of Alabama, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona) voted to remove him from office, while two Republicans from states carried by Hillary Clinton (Susan Collins of Maine and Cory Gardner of Colorado) voted to acquit the president. Jones, Peters, Collins, and Gardner are all up for reelection this year, with Jones and both Republicans definitely making themselves more vulnerable by their votes today.
The trial ended 16 days after it began, a new record in brevity. But the volume and intensity of the proceedings will echo for many years, and Trump will never escape the opprobrium of having been impeached.