After four months of an impeachment process that has highlighted the political divisions in Washington, the US Senate voted along party lines on Wednesday night to acquit President Donald Trump on two counts passed in December by the House of Representatives. As things stand now, Trump is the third president in US history to be impeached, and the third too to be acquitted by the Senate.
On Wednesday evening, senators voted 52-48 to acquit Trump of abuse of power and by 53-47 to acquit him of obstructing Congress — as expected both far short of the 67 majority needed to remove him from office.
Unlike the impeachment process of President Bill Clinton that gripped the US in the late years of the 20th Century with its tales of covert sexual encounters in the Oval Office, the most recent process has failed to retain the attention of an American nation who has made up its own mind about the actions of their 45th president.
In 10 months’ time Americans will cast their ballots in judgement of the case of the People against Donald J. Trump. That is the true verdict that will stand.
For Trump supporters, this was a trumped up charge, one without merit, and he was well within his rights as the executive leader to withhold funds from Ukraine if he suspected corruption or underhand dealings on the part of Hunter Biden, the son of one of Trump’s main political Democrat rivals come next autumn.
For Democrats, the actions of the president in linking military aid to Ukraine’s ability to dig up political dirt on Biden is an abuse of power, so too the path of obstruction from the Oval Office in refusing to cooperate with its investigation. And they point to his impeachment in the House of Representatives as an endorsement of that foul play.
The bar for removing a sitting president from office had been set high by the framers of the US Constitution more than 230 years ago.
The votes in Washington on Wednesday shows Trump’s actions did not meet that threshold. But did they ever envisage a time where every word and sentence is parsed through the lenses of social media and a media machine so divided that the lines between hard facts and opinion are so blurred as making it impossible to distinguish real from reality?
The only truth now is that an impeached president has been acquitted by the Senate. In 10 months’ time Americans will cast their ballots in judgement of the case of the People against Donald J. Trump. That is the true verdict that will stand.