By Ian Krietzberg
Nation & World Editor
The impeachment trial of President Donald Trump concluded on Feb. 5, with the Senate acquitting the president of Abuse of Power in a 52-48 vote, and of Obstruction of Congress in a 53-47 vote, according to Business Insider.
While the acquittal was anticipated by many, the actions of Senator Mitt Romney, R-Utah, were not, according to NBC News. The senator’s decision to vote with the Democratic Party on the Abuse of Power charge marks him as not only the sole Republican that broke ranks but also as the first Senator in U.S. history that voted to convict a president of the same party in an impeachment trial.
“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,” he said in an emotional speech made on the Senate floor.
“Were I to ignore the evidence that has been presented and disregard what I believe my oath and the Constitution demands of me for the sake of a partisan end, it would, I fear, expose my character to history’s rebuke and the censure of my own conscience.”
The response to Romney’s decision was quick — Democrats praised him for his morality while Republican senators, Trump, his family, and right-wing media outlets all blasted him for his dissent, according to CNN. Lou Dobbs likened him to “Judas,” “Brutus” and “Benedict Arnold,” and Laura Ingraham called him “selfish” and “self-centered.”
Meanwhile, on the morning of Feb. 6, Trump used the normally solemn affair of the National Prayer Breakfast to gloat about his acquittal, displaying newspaper covers and speaking out on the subject.
“As everybody knows, my family, our great country and your president have been put through a terrible ordeal by some very dishonest and corrupt people,” he said, according to Business Insider.
Republican senators continue to search for ways to defend their position, some claiming that Trump’s actions, while inappropriate, were not impeachable. Meanwhile, the acquittal has severely altered the dynamic of democracy and U.S. politics, according to CNN.
“In private, many of my colleagues agree that the president is reckless and unfit,” Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said in an opinion published by The New York Times. “They admit his lies. And they acknowledge what he did was wrong. They know this president has done things Richard Nixon never did. And they know that more damning evidence is likely to come out.”
The significance of the Trump acquittal in relation to the future of U.S. politics should not be ignored, Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of UC Berkeley School of Law, writes in an opinion in The Los Angeles Times. “A crucial constitutional check on the president has been rendered largely meaningless by the Trump impeachment. And this should be a frightening lesson for all of us.”