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Senate acquits Trump: Vote falls short

Maya Hall


On Wednesday, Jan. 13, the House of Representatives impeached former president Donald Trump. In the vote, 10 republicans voted for his impeachment along with all democrat representatives. 

This was Trump’s second impeachment, the first happened on Dec. 18, 2019. Orion Yoesle, assistant professor of political science, provides some information on the first and second impeachments of the former president. 

“Donald Trump is the only president to have been impeached twice,” Yoesle said. “The first time, two articles were filed, one for obstruction of justice and the other for abuse of power. The latter was determined by an investigation where he was, via phone call audio, found to have withheld funding for Ukraine unless the Ukrainian government investigated Joe Biden, who had declared a run for President against him by this time. The first charge was for obstructing the investigation into this abuse of power.”  

In Trump’s first impeachment, he was acquitted by the U.S. Senate on Feb. 5, 2020. Forty-eight representatives voted in favor of impeachment on the first article, abuse of power. For the second article, obstruction of justice, 47 representatives voted for impeachment, 53 in favor of acquittal.

“The biggest difference between this impeachment process and the first, in addition to the charge itself (incitement of insurrection), is the likely argument that will be used to defend against conviction in the Senate,” Yoesle said. “Trump’s attorneys, and senators who voted in opposition to holding the trial in the first place, did so on the grounds that impeaching a president who is no longer in office is unconstitutional.” 

Trump’s second impeachment began just only a week before his presidential term ended on Wednesday, Jan. 20. Although he was out of office, the impeachment process still continued and moved on to the U.S. Senate to hold a trial and vote. 

“One part of the consequences of impeachment and removal from office, however, is that if successful, it could prevent the convicted president from holding public office ever again,” Yoesle said. “This is the argument democrats in Congress used when advancing impeachment articles with so little time left in Trump’s term, and it is the basis under which they will argue against the claim made by Republicans and Trump’s new attorneys. It should be said, however, that we are in uncharted waters here – both in the arguments made and the circumstances.” 

On Saturday, Feb. 13, the senate voted to acquit Trump. Forty-three senators voted for acquittal and 57 voted to impeach. The impeachment of Trump fell short because 17 republican senators’ votes were needed to impeach him.

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