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What Donald Trump's Senate impeachment acquittal vote means


After almost five months, US President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial has ended in an acquittal.

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The US Senate voted not guilty by a margin of 52-48 on the first article of impeachment. It voted not guilty by a margin of 53-47 on the second article of impeachment.

Both were well short of the 67-vote majority needed to convict the President and remove him from office.

Here are five really simple questions about it all answered.

Is that it?

For this Senate trial, yep.

The final vote brings an end to this impeachment process.

The record will always show that Trump was impeached. That doesn’t change with this vote.

But the record will also always show that he was acquitted of the charges laid against him.

Trump remains in office and continues the normal business of being President before contesting the next election in November.

The Senate goes back to being a normal part of the US Government.

Does this mean Trump is innocent?

That depends on who you ask. All it means for sure is that he won’t be removed from office.

An impeachment trial uses a lot of the same language as a court trial, but it’s not the same. It’s a political process, not a legal one.

Trump has been acquitted, but that will mean different things to different people.

The President and his closest allies will say this result proves his innocence.

But even some of his own party explained that they believe Trump did the things he was accused of, but his actions didn’t warrant being booted from office.

Democrats will say that this was the result of an unjust process that didn’t even hear from witnesses.

But even some of their own members voted against impeaching Trump in the House of Representatives.

Make up your own mind: Here are the charges  Trump was accused of (with handy explanations for each). Here’s a summary of the defence Trump’s legal team put forward.

Can Trump be impeached again?

Technically yes. There is nothing stopping the US House of Representatives — which is currently controlled by Democrats — filing new articles of impeachment and beginning this process all over again.

But it won’t happen.

This trial showed Democrats that there weren’t enough Republican senators to even entertain calling new witnesses as part of a Senate trial, let alone remove the President from office. The outcome would not be different.

And the 2020 election has just swung into top gear. The candidates running to be Trump’s opponent would like the spotlight on them, and not on Trump and Washington DC.

Things could change depending on the result of the next election, but for now this will be the last you’ll hear of plans to impeach the President for a while.

What about those witnesses I kept hearing about?

Democrats pushed to call new witnesses as part of the Senate trial, specifically Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton. They failed multiple times to do just that, with the Republican majority blocking the moves.

That doesn’t mean it’s the last we’ll hear from Bolton.

Several house committees controlled by Democrats have the power to subpoena Bolton and then release those findings.

Bolton is also writing a book. Several allegedly key passages have already been reported by the New York Times.

And there’s nothing stopping Bolton from just sharing what he knows with the world in a Facebook post, a media interview, in skywriting or even through the President’s favourite medium, Twitter.

Get caught up: Here’s why Bolton will be closely watched all the way until the election.

What does this mean for the 2020 election?

No one knows for sure.

Will Democrats be punished for pushing forward with an impeachment trial half of US voters believe wasn’t justified?

Will Republicans be punished for walking in lock step behind the President when the other half of American voters believed he committed offences that were worthy of being removed from office?

Will Trump be harmed politically in any way by the coverage of his actions in a phone call with the President of Ukraine?

There’s one day we’ll know the answer to all of these questions —election day.


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