Donald Trump cleared of all charges in Senate impeachment trial

The Republican-controlled US Senate has voted to clear President Donald Trump of all impeachment articles against him.

The acquittal means Mr Trump will remain as President and brings to a close only the third presidential trial in American history with votes that split the country, tested civic norms and fed the tumultuous 2020 race for the White House.

The 73-year-old faced being removed from office over charges he abused his power by attempting to sway Ukraine into investigating political rival Joe Biden, and then obstructed Congress attempting to investigate the issue.

While a majority of senators expressed unease with Mr Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine that resulted in the two articles of impeachment, the final tallies fell far short.

With chief justice John Roberts presiding over the trial, senators swore to do “impartial justice” as they stood at their desks for the roll call and stated their votes – guilty or not guilty.

  • Chief Justice John Roberts clears Donald Trump of both impeachment articles following a Senate vote

On the first count of impeachment, abuse of power, 52 Senators voted to acquit and 48 votes to convict.

Only one Republican sided with the Democrats against Mr Trump - Senator Mitt Romney, who said the President was "guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust" and choked up as he said he drew on his faith and “oath before God”.

On the second count - obstruction of Congress - senators voted 53 to 47 to acquit the President.

Mr Romney voted with his party on this count of impeachment.

Senators pushing to remove the President from office needed a two-thirds majority, or 67 votes, to be successful.

Ahead of voting, some of the most closely watched senators took to the Senate floor to tell their constituents, and the nation, what they had decided.

Soon after the votes were finalised, Trump tweeted a video showing a mock-up of a Time Magazine cover featuring signs reading: "Trump 2028, Trump 2032, Trump 2036."

At the end of the video, Trump appears above a sign with his name and a rapidly ascending number which ends with the words: "Trump 4EVA."

He also tweeted he will make a statement on his "VICTORY" on Thursday.

Protesters demonstrated outside Congress as the votes were read out.

They chanted slogans criticising the Senate's handling of the trial.

"No witnesses, no evidence, what kind of trial is that?" they chanted.

The outcome of the votes follows months of remarkable impeachment proceedings, from Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s House to Mitch McConnell’s Senate, reflecting the nation’s unrelenting partisan divide three years into the Trump presidency.

What started as Mr Trump’s request for Ukraine to “do us a favour” spun into a far-reaching, 28,000-page report compiled by House investigators accusing an American president of engaging in shadow diplomacy that threatened US foreign relations for personal, political gain as he pressured the ally to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden ahead of the next election.

No president has ever been removed by the Senate.

A politically emboldened Mr Trump has eagerly predicted vindication, deploying the verdict as a political anthem in his re-election bid.

The President claims he did nothing wrong, decrying the “witch hunt” and “hoax” as extensions of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian 2016 campaign interference by those out to get him from the start of his presidency.

Anti-Trump protesters demonstrate as the votes are cast. Credit: AP

During the nearly three-week trial, House Democrats prosecuting the case argued that Mr Trump abused power like no other president in history when he pressured Ukraine to investigate Mr Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, ahead of the 2020 election.

They detailed an extraordinary shadow diplomacy run by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani that set off alarms at the highest levels of government.

After Mr Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine, Mr Trump temporarily halted US aid to the struggling ally battling hostile Russia at its border.

The money was eventually released in September as Congress intervened.

When the House probed Trump’s actions, the President instructed White House aides to defy congressional subpoenas, leading to the obstruction charge.

Mr Trump’s approval rating, which has generally languished in the mid- to low-40s, hit a new high of 49% in the latest Gallup polling, which was conducted as the Senate trial was drawing to a close.

The poll found that 51% of the public views the Republican Party favourably, the first time the party’s number has exceeded 50% since 2005.