News World ‘VICTORY’: Trump triumphant after Senate acquittal
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‘VICTORY’: Trump triumphant after Senate acquittal

The US Senate has acquitted President Donald Trump in his impeachment trial after five months of proceedings. Photo: AP
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The battle is over but the war rolls on.

The US Senate acquitted President Donald Trump on both articles in his impeachment trial after five months of fractious proceedings.

Immediately after the vote, a bullish Mr Trump tweeted “VICTORY”.

He followed that up within a couple of hours with a mocked-up cover of Time magazine that appeared to suggest he had his eye on further terms beyond the 2020 election.

The tweet, which includes a shirt video, show Mr Trump standing above banner showing his presidency rolling through years, decades and centuries before eventually landing on “Trump 4EVA”

The conclusion of the impeachment trial comes nine months before Mr Trump calls on voters in a deeply divided America to give him a second White House term.

“President Trump has been totally vindicated and it’s now time to get back to the business of the American people,” Mr Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, said.

Senator majority leader Mitch McConnell also welcomed the vote.

“We will reject this incoherent case that comes nowhere near, nowhere near, justifying the first presidential removal in history,” the Republican senator said.

“This partisan impeachment will end today. But I fear the threat to our institutions may not, because this episode is one of a symptom of something much deeper.”

The President was found not guilty on Wednesday (local time), as voting on the two articles – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress – went overwhelmingly along party lines.

Only one Republican, Senator Mitt Romney broke ranks to side with the Democrats on the charge of abuse of power.

Mr Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, described Mr Trump’s actions in pressuring Ukraine to investigate former vice-president Joe Biden as “grievously wrong” and said Mr Trump was “guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust”.

“Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine,” Senator Romney said.

It didn’t take Mr Trump long to vent his feelings about Senator Romney’s decision and preceding sentiments. He took to social media within hours of the verdict to accuse the conservative Utah senator of being a “secret asset” of the Democrats, denouncing him as “slippery” and “stealthy”.

Mr Trump posted a minute-long video with a voiceover accusing Senator Romney of posing as a Republican.

“He tried to infiltrate President Trump’s administration as the secretary of state,” it said, referring to speculation in 2017 that Mr Trump was considering the senator for his cabinet.

But Senator Romney – who has largely voted in line with Mr Trump’s objectives in the Senate – was prepared for the attack.

He told Fox News just before he cast his vote against the President that he knew he would face repercussions.

“I understand there’s going to be enormous consequence,” Senator Romney said.

“I don’t have a choice in that regard.

“I can’t let personal considerations, if you will, overwhelm my conscience and overwhelm my oath to God.”

The trial and subsequent vote was triggered by Mr Trump’s impeachment, approved by the Democratic-led House of Representatives on December 18.

However, votes fell far short of the two-thirds majority required to remove Mr Trump as president. As a result, he has survived only the third presidential impeachment trial in US history.

In the previous trials, Andrew Johnson was acquitted in 1868 in the aftermath of the American Civil War and Bill Clinton was acquitted in 1999 of charges stemming from a sex scandal.

The Senate voted 52-48 to acquit Mr Trump, 73, of abuse of power stemming from his request that Ukraine investigate Mr Biden, who is a contender for the Democratic nomination to face Mr Trump in the November 3 presidential election.

The Senate then voted 53-47 to acquit Mr Trump of obstruction of Congress by blocking witnesses and documents sought by the House.

No Democrat voted to acquit, and Senator Romney’s vote was the only difference between the two counts.

Led by Senator McConnell, the Republicans had been able to orchestrate a pared-down trial with no witnesses or new evidence.

Democrats labelled the trial a sham and a cover-up.

Mr Trump called the impeachment an attempted coup and a Democratic attempt to annul his 2016 election victory.

Enjoying his highest approval ratings since coming to office, Mr Trump is now focusing his efforts on securing re-election.

The President faces no serious challengers for his party’s presidential nomination.

He is poised to claim the nomination in August and previewed in his State of the Union address on Tuesday campaign themes such as American renewal, economic vitality and hardline immigration policies.

-with agencies