For the third time in the nation's history, a sitting president has been impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors by the House of Representatives and acquitted by the Senate.
The Senate voted to acquit the president on both counts, 52-48 on abuse of power and 53-47 on obstruction of Congress, after a 12-day impeachment trial, the shortest ever. A few senators who appeared to be having second thoughts about towing the party line ended up voting as expected, with one exception.
Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah), one of only two Republicans who voted in favor of hearing witnesses, said during an emotional speech on the Senate floor ahead of the final vote that he would vote to convict the president on the first count of abuse of power. Both parties had hoped for defection to make the argument that the case was bipartisan. The first-term senator, but long-time politician, invoked his faith and conscience in his remarks as he appeared to be holding back tears. Romney will be the only senator in impeachment history to vote to remove from office a president of his own party. Both presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton saw members of their own parties vote to impeach in the House but not vote to remove in the Senate.
"Were I to ignore the evidence that has been presented and disregard what I believe my oath and the Constitution demands of me for the sake of a partisan end, it would, I fear, expose my character to history's rebuke and the censure of my own conscience," he said. He called the president's conduct "an appalling abuse of public trust" and a "flagrant assault" on U.S. elections. Romney said many demanded "I stand with the team" but that "my promise before God to apply impartial justice required that I put my personal feelings and political biases aside."
A reporter in the room said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) was dabbing his eyes and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) sat with his mouth open as they both realized Romney would vote to convict.
"We are all but footnotes at best in the annals of history, but in the most powerful nation on Earth, the nation conceived in liberty and justice, that distinction is enough for any citizen," he said.
Moderate Democrat Senator Doug Jones of Alabama, facing a tough reelection and thought to be one of the few Democrats who may have joined Republicans in the vote to acquit, announced on the Senate floor on Wednesday that he will vote to convict the president on both articles of impeachment.
"After many sleepless nights, I have reluctantly concluded that the evidence is sufficient to convict the president for both the abuse of power and obstruction of Congress," Jones said in a statement.
The Senate was charged with considering the two articles of impeachment to which Jones referred. House lawmakers alleged the president used his office to pressure his Ukrainian counterpart to announce investigations into political rival former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter in exchange for an official White House visit and the release of military aid. The second article was brought in response to the president's refusal to comply with inquiries or subpoenas. Trump had directed agencies and officials not to comply with the House investigation.
Some Republican senators, whose votes were thought to be up for grabs in the failed vote to include witnesses and documents, agreed that the president's conduct was inappropriate and that House managers had proven their case but said the charges fell short of what necessitated removal. Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), voted to convict on both counts.