WASHINGTON — Following just over two weeks of arguments from Democratic House managers prosecuting the case and the White House defense, the Senate voted Wednesday to keep President Donald Trump in office.
Trump was acquitted on both charges, as two-thirds of senators (67) were needed to vote to remove him. Republican Sen. Mitt Romney shocked colleagues Wednesday in announcing on the Senate floor that he would vote to convict Trump — but none of the chamber’s other 52 Republicans joined him.
Senators voted separately on the two articles of impeachment, first abuse of power and then obstruction of Congress. Romney voted to convict on the first charge but not the second.
Wednesday’s vote marks the end of an impeachment saga over Trump pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his family and withholding nearly $400 billion in military aid to Ukraine.
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The prosecution and the defense made their closing arguments Monday afternoon. Rep. Adam Schiff, the lead impeachment manager who also serves as the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, had the final word in the debate.
“You can’t trust this president to do the right thing — not for one minute, not for one election, not for the sake of our country. You just can’t,” Schiff said on the Senate floor Monday. “He will not change and you know it.”
In his closing remarks, Schiff tried to appeal to Republican senators who may be on the fence.
“I do not ask you to convict him because truth or right or decency matters nothing to him, but because we have proven our case and it matters to you,” he said. “Truth matters to you. Right matters to you. You are decent. He is not who you are.”
The president’s defense team argued that, with the election just nine months away, it should be left up to the voters to decide whether the president should be removed from office.
“At the end of the day, we put our faith in the Senate,” White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said. “We put our faith in the Senate. Because we know you will put your faith in the American people. You will leave this choice to them, where it belongs.”
Ahead of the vote, protesters filed into the Capitol's rotunda. A group of 10 people locked arms during a sit-in and repeatedly shouted “Trump is guilty!" before being removed by Capitol Police.
On Tuesday, Sen. Susan Collins, one of just two Republicans who voted in favor of witnesses last week, announced she would vote to acquit Trump. In a speech on the Senate floor, Collins said Trump’s actions with Ukraine were “wrong” as well as "improper and demonstrated very poor judgment,” but added that removal from office was too strong a response.
“I believe that the president has learned from this case,” Collins told CBS later Tuesday. “The president has been impeached. That's a pretty big lesson. … I do not believe that the behavior alleged reaches the high bar in the Constitution for overturning an election, and removing a duly elected president.”
On Wednesday, Collins told reporters she probably shouldn't have said that she "believes" Trump has learned a lesson, but should have said she "hopes" he has.
The Democratic caucus stuck together and voted in favor of removing Trump from office on both counts. Moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Doug Jones of Alabama, and Kyrsten Sinema had left the door open to voting to acquit on one or both of the charges, but all said Wednesday they vote to convict on both articles of impeachment.
Jones had said last week he believed the president’s lawyers made a “persuasive” argument on the second article of impeachment, but ultimately announced Wednesday, “After many sleepless nights, I have reluctantly concluded that the evidence is sufficient to convict the President for both abuse of power and obstruction of Congress."
On Monday, Manchin had floated the idea of a censure resolution to condemn the president’s actions but stop short of removing him from office. But in a statement Wednesday, Manchin said that while it was a "truly difficult decision" for him, House Democrats had proved their case.
"I take no pleasure in these votes, and am saddened this is the legacy we leave our children and grandchildren. I have always wanted this president, and every president, to succeed, but I deeply love our country and must do what I think is best for the nation," he said.
Kadia Goba contributed reporting to this story.