WASHINGTON, D.C. — The impeachment fix is in — though not without a historic Republican hitch.
The Senate predictably cleared President Trump on Wednesday of charges that he pressured Ukraine for political favors and then sought to cover up his sketchy scheme — but a lone Republican got in the way of the party-line acquittal craved by the president for months.
Stunning his fellow Republicans, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney voted with all 47 Democrats in favor of convicting Trump of the first article of impeachment on abuse of power, putting the final tally at 52-48.
The second article, which charged Trump with obstruction of Congress, failed in a strict party-line vote of 53-47.
“It is therefore ordered and adjudged that Donald John Trump be and he is hereby acquitted of the charges in said articles,” Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who presided over Trump’s historic trial, said before gaveling in both votes.
Romney’s vote on the first article makes Trump the only American president to have faced bipartisan Senate support for his removal from office.
Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson — the only other U.S. presidents to have been impeached by the House — were both acquitted by the Senate without any members of their own party voting for removal.
Trump’s acquittal — which closes the book on one of the most serious presidential scandals in modern memory — came even as a bipartisan majority of senators agreed the president acted inappropriately by pressing Ukraine’s government to announce investigations of Joe Biden and other Democrats or miss out on $391 million in sorely-needed U.S. military aid.
However, contrary to Romney, the other Republicans who expressed unease about Trump’s Ukraine scheme claimed it didn’t warrant his conviction and removal from office and argued the final verdict should be left with voters in this year’s presidential election.
In a floor speech, Romney said he understood that his vote would not remove the president from office, but said he could not sit idly by and ignore the “appalling abuse of public trust” the president committed.
“There’s no question that the president asked a foreign power to investigate his political foe,” Romney said with emotion in his voice. “My own view is that there’s not much I can think of that would be a more egregious assault on our Constitution than trying to corrupt an election to maintain power. And that’s what the president did.”
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