As expected, the Senate voted on Wednesday to acquit President Trump on both of the two articles of impeachment forwarded by the House Democrats.
The president tweeted that he will make a statement about this on Thursday.
I will be making a public statement tomorrow at 12:00pm from the @WhiteHouse to discuss our Country’s VICTORY on the Impeachment Hoax!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 5, 2020
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commemorated his role in the acquittal:
Per Senate impeachment Rule XXIII, “[u]pon pronouncing judgement, a certified copy of such judgement shall be deposited in the office of the Secretary of State.” Tonight, it was my pleasure to sign President @realDonaldTrump’s full acquittal. pic.twitter.com/6Y44Mp0oJe
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) February 6, 2020
The Senate’s 53-47 vote on the second article, “obstruction of Congress,” fell along party lines. However, Mitt Romney (R-UT) broke with Republicans to vote with Democrats for conviction on the first article, “abuse of power.” The acquittal vote was thus 52-48 in that case.
Romney explained his vote to convict in a trenchant speech on the Senate floor:
“The president is guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust. What he did was not perfect. No, it was a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security and our fundamental values,” Romney said. “Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine.”
Ted Cruz (R-TX) voted to acquit based on a very different view of the same facts (video below). After pointing out that it wasn’t even in dispute whether Trump delayed releasing aid to Ukraine, or encouraged Ukraine to continue investigating Burisma, because Trump stipulated that he had done both, Cruz explained it this way:
The most important legal question in this proceeding, the question that resolves this proceeding, is, Does a president have the constitutional authority to investigate credible allegations of corruption? The House managers built their case on the proposition that seeking an investigation into Burisma, the corrupt Ukrainian natural gas company, and Joe Biden and Hunter Biden – seeking any investigation into whether there was corruption there was, in the words of the House managers, “baseless,” “a sham,” and “utterly without merit.” …
Madame President, I will say on the fact of it, that proposition [the House managers’] is objectively absurd.
Cruz went on to lay out the evidence of corruption, and concluded:
That, on its face, raises significant issues of potential corruption. We don’t know for sure if there was in fact corruption, but when President Trump asked that it be investigated to get to the bottom of what happened – the president has the authority to investigate corruption, and there was more than sufficient basis to do so.
As Cruz’s argument makes clear, Romney simply bought in, hook, line, and sinker, to the House Democrats’ case that any interest from Trump in investigating Burisma or the Bidens could only be a corrupt attempt to “cheat” in an upcoming election.
The president, however, is now acquitted. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) celebrated by giving Speaker Pelosi a little of her own medicine, pointing out in the process that Trump is now “acquitted for life.”
Acquitted for life. pic.twitter.com/HgqBXwpoWK
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) February 5, 2020
Speculation on whether Romney is trying to position himself for some future presidential attempt, and on what the House Democrats and their media backers are planning next, will be postponed to another time.