By Andy Doan
The US Senate started a formal impeachment trial in which they voted to either convict or acquit President Donald Trump on Jan. 16, and the vote took place Wed., Feb. 5. The vote resulted in his acquittal on both articles of impeachment, with it being mostly split along party lines (only one senator crossed party lines by voting to convict President Trump, Republican Senator Mitt Romney.)
In the process of doing so, Senator Romney became the first and only senator in history to vote to convict the president of his own party.
“As a senator-juror, I swore an oath, before God, to exercise ‘impartial justice,’” said Senator Romney.
Impeachment is similar to an indictment in a criminal case; it is a charge, but not the punishment itself.
Although President Trump had already been impeached by the House of Representatives, the House was required to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate, where they decided the punishment, if any.
At the beginning of the trials, Americans were sharply divided on whether Trump should be removed from office—with Democrats largely supporting removal, Republicans largely opposing, and independents divided. According to CNN, 51% of people—89% of Democrats and 8% of Republicans—supported Trump’s removal from office, compared to 45% who opposed the idea. The missing 4% remained indifferent.
This trial was a result of the impeachment that started when a whistleblower’s complaint was released, claiming that President Trump threatened to withdraw United States’ aid money to Ukraine, if an investigation on his political opponents, including former Vice President Joe Biden, was not conducted.
The impeachment trial can be understood as a court case where the Senators are the jurors.
As reported by The New York Times, the prosecution’s opening arguments were held between Jan. 22–24, and those of the defense began on Jan. 25-28.
Following this, there were 16 hours of questions and answers, four hours of debate and a vote on whether to consider subpoenas for documents or witnesses not covered by the House investigation. Controversy sprang when the Senate voted 51-49 to hold the trial without any witnesses.
Finally, the closing statements were given on Mon., Feb. 3, and two days later the vote was taken.
There were several possible outcomes to this trial: President Trump could have been removed from office and/or disqualified from holding office in the future. This means that President Trump could have been removed from office and still be able to continue running for re-election in the 2020 Presidential Election, or that he could remain in office, but be barred from holding office in the future.
With the president’s acquittal, he will remain in office, and is still eligible to run for re-election in the upcoming election. The future remains unclear, but President Trump could be the first president to be impeached and re-elected.