Trump acquitted by Senate in impeachment trial

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – President Donald Trump has been cleared in his impeachment trial, ending a congressional bid to oust him from office that bitterly divided the US.

The Senate, run by the president’s fellow Republicans, voted to acquit him 52-48 on charges of abuse of power and 53-47 on obstruction of Congress.

Democrats charged Mr Trump in December with pressuring Ukraine to smear a potential White House rival.

In November, Mr Trump will be the first impeached president to go for election.

In its historic vote on Wednesday, the Senate decided not to remove America’s 45th president from office on charges arising from his dealings with Ukraine.

If convicted on either charge, Mr Trump would have had to turn over his office to Vice-President Mike Pence.

The Democratic-led House of Representatives approved the articles of impeachment on 18 December.

Trump, who is seeking a second four-year term in the 3 November election, always denied wrongdoing.

His re-election campaign said in a statement: “President Trump has been totally vindicated and it’s now time to get back to the business of the American people.

“The do-nothing Democrats know they can’t beat him, so they had to impeach him.” It said “this terrible ordeal” and “nonsense” was merely a Democratic campaign tactic.

The statement added: “This impeachment hoax will go down as the worst miscalculation in American political history.”

Trump – whose personal approval rating with American voters hit a personal best of 49% this week, according to Gallup – tweeted that he would speak on Thursday about the case.

Despite Democratic hopes, two other moderate Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, did not join Mr Romney in voting to convict the president.

Some Republican senators criticised Mr Trump’s behaviour in recent days, but said it did not rise to the level of impeachment.

Three centrist Democratic senators who Republicans had hoped would side with them instead voted to convict Mr Trump.

They were Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Doug Jones of Alabama.

A two-thirds majority vote was needed to remove Trump, which was always going to be a long shot in a 100-seat chamber controlled by his party.

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