WASHINGTON, D.C. — After a three-week trial, the U.S. Senate voted 48-52 and 47-53 on Feb. 5 along party lines on the two articles of impeachment against President Donald J. Trump, falling well short of the two-thirds vote needed for conviction.
The trial was the third in American history and had the same outcome as the previous two, in which the sitting president was acquitted by the U.S. Senate after the impeachment articles were approved by the U.S. House of Representatives. The charges alleged that Trump solicited foreign interference from Ukrainian leaders to help his 2020 re-election bid, then told officials in his administration not to comply with Congressional subpoenas when asked to testify.
The two articles, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, passed the Democratic-controlled House along partisan lines, 230-197 and 229-198, respectively, with one “present” vote for each article, on Dec. 18, 2019.
All 45 Democratic senators, joined by the two independent senators, voted “guilty” for both counts. All but one of the 53 Republican senators voted “not guilty.” Utah Senator Mitt Romney, a Republican, voted “guilty” for abuse of power but not guilty for obstruction of Congress. Romney is the first U.S. senator to vote “guilty” on an impeachment article against a president of his own party.
North Carolina’s Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, both Republicans, voted to acquit.
“To remove a U.S. president from office, for the first time in our history, on anything less than overwhelming evidence of ‘treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors’ would effectively overturn the will of the American people,” Burr said in a Feb. 5 statement.
Burr criticized the Democratic-led U.S. House, saying it did not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt and “followed an arbitrary, self-imposed timeline dictated by political, rather than substantive, concerns.”
Tillis said in a Tweet that the entire impeachment effort was motivated by partisan politics and a desire to remove Trump from office “instead of allowing the American people to decide his fate at the ballot box in November.”
In a Feb. 5 statement, the Democratic National Committee called the U.S. Senate under Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “broken.”
“The only way to fix it is replacing these spineless Republicans with Democratic senators who will actually do their jobs,” the DNC stated.
U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, a Banner Elk Republican, voted against the articles in the U.S. House.
“Before President Trump even stepped foot into the Oval Office, calls for impeachment echoed throughout the halls of Congress,” Foxx stated on Feb. 5. “After five months of a partisan, divisive drive of impeachment at the expense of consensus-based, bipartisan solutions in Congress, the Senate put this partisan impeachment sham to an end. Finally, Congress can get back to work and deliver on the priorities of the American people.”
On Feb. 5, the Watauga Democrat reached out on Facebook for local comments on the acquittal.
“Impeached by the House is a forever status,” said Nancy Wells Shannon of Fleetwood. “Kudos to Romney for having the integrity to speak truth to power. History will expose this administration eventually.”
“Victory for a truly great president and for Americans that love America,” said Paul Pierce, an independent from Boone.
“These events always set precedent for the future,” said Charlie Altman, an independent voter from Boone. “Precedent was set in both the way that Democrats handled impeachment in the House, and in the way Republicans handled the trial in the (U.S.) Senate. The precedent that is truly concerning is that, as of now, if the same party controls both the (U.S.) Senate and the executive branch, that party can be justified in allowing neither witnesses nor evidence at a trial of its own wrongdoing. This is extremely bad for both parties and the citizens of the USA.”
“Totally agree with the vote; will vote for him again,” said Sharon Davis.