President Trump Gives State Of The Union Address
President Trump Gives State Of The Union Address

Not guilty: Trump acquitted after impeachment trial

President Donald Trump has been formally acquitted by the US Senate in his historic impeachment trial.

The outcome, with the Senate voting 52 to 48 to clear Mr Trump of abuse of power and 53 to 47 on obstruction of congress, has been regarded as a "done deal" for some time, but the result now supercharges his bid for re-election in November.

Following on from the Democrats' Iowa caucus disaster and his well-received State of the Union address last night, Mr Trump - whose approval rating with US voters is at an all-time - is now riding high while his opponents try to sort out who will actually be opposing him in the election.

 

Democrats sought to impeach Mr Trump and remove him from office through two counts of impeachment, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

They alleged that in the phone call, Mr Trump asks for a "favour" - for Ukraine to look into business dealings there by Hunter Biden, son of former Vice President Joe Biden - in exchange for military aid.

Mr Trump vehemently denied the allegations. However, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives voted to impeach the President, which sent the matter to the Republican-controlled Senate for trial.

 

The US Senate voted 52 to 48 to clear Mr Trump. Picture: Senate TV
The US Senate voted 52 to 48 to clear Mr Trump. Picture: Senate TV

 

Before the vote, senior Republican Senator Mitt Romney stunningly broke ranks with his party, saying he was voting to convict Mr Trump.

"The case was made," he told his fellow Senators.

"I swore an oath before God to apply impartial justice. And, as you know, I'm a very religious person. I take that very seriously," Sen. Romney, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, told The Salt Lake Tribune ahead of his vote.

"And so I looked at the evidence in a very unbiased manner and concluded that the president had done as was alleged - that he did ask a foreign government to interfere in the election, that he did pressure that government by withholding aid.

"That's as egregious an assault on the Constitution of our country as I can imagine that a president might make."

 

It came a day after Mr Trump declared he has delivered a "great American comeback", in a rousing State of the Union speech.

Addressing a Congress that has for months been roiled by the Ukraine scandal and bitter partisan discord, the US president - who is polling at his highest ever job approval - cast forward and made the case for why he should win a second term to chants of "four more years" in the chamber.

But even as he spoke of unity, the nationally televised spectacle saw him reject a handshake from Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who announced his impeachment in the same room seven weeks ago, and sat uncomfortably behind him, at times making faces as he spoke and tearing up a copy of the speech he handed her as he finished.

"This is a blue collar boom," Mr Trump said as he touted the "roaring economy", creation of 7 million new jobs, new trade deals and rising wages.

"In just three short years, we have shattered the mentality of American decline and we have rejected the downsizing of America's destiny.

"We are moving forward at a pace that was unimaginable just a short time ago, and we are never going back!"

Mr Trump yesterday delivered his State of the Union address, which was well received. Picture: AP
Mr Trump yesterday delivered his State of the Union address, which was well received. Picture: AP

The address came in an extraordinary week for Washington, with his opposition still in turmoil after counting of the first Democratic votes for their presidential candidate were declared an "unmitigated disaster".

A technical glitch delayed the release of the results for Monday's Iowa caucuses, stealing crucial momentum at the kick-off the primary season. A decision by Democrats to release only part of the data Tuesday caused more confusion about who had actually won the first vote.

Former vice president and long-term frontrunner, Joe Biden, appeared to suffer a crushing blow, coming in fourth behind young Washington outsider Pete Buttigieg, who took 26.9 per cent in early counting, and far left candidates Bernie Sanders (25.1 per cent) and Elizabeth Warren (18.3 per cent), after 62 per cent of the vote was tallied.

The results were released by a contrite Iowa Democratic Party chair, who apologised for the disastrous count in which a coding problem in a new, untested app cast a shadow over the first days of the 2020 race.

"We have been working day and night to make sure these results were accurate," said state party chairman Troy Price at a testy press conference.

As Mr Trump spoke Tuesday night Washington time, he was riding higher than at any time during his presidency, with record approval levels of 49 per cent, a booming economy and backlash to the Democrat attempt him to unseat him driving eye-watering fundraising to his 2020 campaign.

 

On the eve of his all but certain acquittal at the impeachment trial, which has bored Americans and buttressed his support, the unconventional president outlined a laundry list of achievements that ranged from criminal justice reform to the creation of a space force and his recent take-down of Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani.

Although Mr Trump is only the second president to give a SOTU address while being impeached Mr Trump did not mention the saga.

But he did make several nods to the radical platforms of Mr Sanders and Ms Warren, including the scrapping of private health cover and providing universal health care for refugees.

"We will never let socialism destroy American healthcare," he said.

"If you believe that we should defend American patients and American seniors, then stand with me and pass legislation to prohibit free government healthcare for illegal aliens!"

Headlines