President Donald Trump was acquitted by the US Senate on Wednesday following a historic impeachment trial that shone a harsh light on America’s divisions, without ever shaking the loyalty of his voter base.
In a political triumph for the US leader, Trump drew on staunch Republican support to easily defeat a Democratic effort to expel him from office for pressuring Ukraine to help bolster his re-election effort.
The president immediately claimed “victory” while the White House declared it a full “exoneration” — and Democrats rejected the acquittal as the “valueless” outcome of an unfair trial.
But the vote in the Senate showed just how solid a grip the former real estate mogul holds over the Republican Party — an asset nine months before he seeks a second four-year-term.
Even though several conceded Trump’s behaviour was wrong, Republicans ultimately stayed loyal in voting to clear the president of charges of abuse of power, by 52 to 48, and of obstruction of Congress, by 53 to 47 — far from the two-thirds supermajority required for conviction.
“Two thirds of the senators present not having found him guilty of the charges contained therein, it is therefore ordered and adjudged that the said Donald John Trump be, and he is hereby, acquitted,” said Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who presided over the trial.