The partisan operation to oust Trump through impeachment for winning the 2016 presidential election finally came to an end Wednesday with Trump’s acquittal in the Senate.
The Senate voted to acquit Trump on the first article of impeachment, a charge for abuse of power, with a vote of 52-48, falling short of the 67 needed to remove the president from office. They voted to acquit on the second article of impeachment, a charge of obstruction of justice, with a vote of 53-47.
Sen. Mitt Romney announced just hours before he would break party lines and split his vote, voting Trump guilty on the abuse of power charge, but not guilty on the obstruction of justice charge.
After the final vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delivered remarks on the Senate floor, reminding senators of the importance of America’s institutions, and warning them of the political threats against such institutions including the Electoral College, the judiciary, and the Senate.
“We simply cannot let factional fever break our institutions. It must work the other way, as Madison and Hamilton intended. The institutions must break the fever, rather than the other way around,” he said. “The Framers built the Senate to keep temporary rage from doing permanent damage to our Republic.”
The official proceedings were kicked off last fall by an anonymous whistleblower complaint alleging Trump conspired with the Ukrainian president to interfere in the next U.S. presidential election this November.
The complaint, marked both “credible” and “urgent” by the intelligence community inspector general but not by the Department of National Intelligence sparked new life into the top item on the Democratic policy agenda: the impeachment of President Trump following the spectacular collapse of the grand Russian collusion conspiracy theory last spring.
The whistleblower’s complaint centered on a July 25th phone call between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky where Trump allegedly pressured the Ukrainian president to launch politically motivated investigations into the Biden family in exchange for nearly $400 million in withheld military aid in an apparent quid pro quo.
Nevermind that the aid was released by the congressionally mandated deadline without the investigations that Democrats and a compliant media have charged Trump with demanding, an unredacted transcript of the call was declassified and released to the public in an unprecedented move to release the conversartion in plain sight revealing no such arrangement between the two world leaders.
The grand reveal from the transcript’s release? That Trump requested a foreign power with a reputation as one of the world’s most corrupt governments root out the corruption plaguing its country, a common practice among American presidents. The president also requested that the Ukrainian leader investigate the origins of Ukraine’s peddling of the Russia hoax in the United States which did irreparable harm to the country. That’s the “high crime and misdemeanor,” that Democrats pinned their impeachment.
Part of that corruption centered on former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, who served on the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma raking in upwards of $50,000 a month despite no prior experience in the industry while his father dictated U.S. policy towards Ukraine.
A Federalist analysis of board member compensation at comparable companies revealed that Hunter Biden was being showered with excess compensation, where board members on companies exponentially larger than Burisma only earned little more than half of Hunter Biden’s pay.
After roughly a month and a half of a secret impeachment investigation run behind closed doors by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff of California, the House voted along party lines to formally open up an impeachment inquiry on Halloween, with two Democrats joining Republicans in opposition.
House Democrats then rushed the process to reach a full chamber vote on two articles of impeachment by Christmas. One article was passed for “abuse of power” and one for “obstruction of Congress,” neither of which were rooted in law following a few weeks of hearings featuring 17 Democrat-called witnesses whose testimony either exonerated the president or destroyed their own credibility.
Immediately after passage of the articles, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced she would be withholding the articles from the Senate for a trial to begin until she extracted concessions from Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on how the trial would be conducted.
Pelosi, after her Democratic colleagues in the House failed to find incriminating evidence against the president sought to put pressure on Senate Republicans to commit to calling new witnesses to testify as public opinion went underwater on impeachment.
The House speaker however, had no leverage to work with and caved after four weeks of withholding thee articles and transmitted them to the upper chamber without a single concession from Republican senators.
Public support for removing the president meanwhile, continued to sink as Pelosi undercut the Democrats’ case that Trump was an urgent danger to the republic who must be removed from the Oval Office.
When the Senate trial got underway, most Americans refused to pay much attention, as the trial got worse ratings than television soap operas.
Similar to the way the Kavanaugh proceedings played out just less than a year and a half ago, 11th- hour revelations of wrongdoing against the president emerged precisely as the Senate prepared to vote on whether to call for new witnesses. The new evidence however, surfaced in unsubstantiated claims from Giuliani associate Lev Parnas who has been indicted for fraud and former National Security Advisor John Bolton who was fired from the White House last year.
In the midst of the Senate trial, manuscripts from Bolton’s unpublished book got leaked to the New York Times alleging that Trump tied the almost $400 million in aid to the investigations into the Biden family on the same day that Bolton’s book became available for pre-sale.
Regardless, the new unproven claims from Bolton convinced two Republican senators, Mitt Romney from Utah and Susan Collins of Maine to join Democrats in voting for new witnesses to come forward and extend the proceedings on Friday. The measure failed however, leading to the Trump’s acquittal on Wednesday.
Despite months of Democrats trying to bring down the president, Trump reached his highest approval rating on Tuesday hours before his third State of the Union address with 49 percent of Americans approving of the president’s job performance.