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donald-trump-impeachment-acquittal

President Donald Trump at the National Electrical Contractors Association Convention in Philadelphia in October 2018.

Credit: Chase Sutton

1968 Wharton graduate and President Donald Trump was acquitted after the United States Senate voted to reject both articles of impeachment on Wednesday. Voters are now left to decide the future of his presidency in November.

Trump, the only Penn graduate ever elected to the presidency, was impeached last December when the House of Representatives passed two articles charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. House Democratic leaders accused Trump of soliciting election assistance from the government of Ukraine to investigate political rival and former Penn Presidential Professor of Practice and Vice President Joe Biden. They also charged Trump with refusal to cooperate with the congressional inquiry. 

Fifty-two senators voted "no" and 48 voted "yes" to convict Trump of abuse of power, while 53 voted "no" and 47 voted "yes" to convict him of obstruction of Congress. 

Sixty-seven votes were required to remove Trump from office, however only one senator voted across party lines in favor of Trump’s conviction. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Ut.) voted to convict Trump for abuse of power, designating him as the first Republican in the Senate to support the president's impeachment. 

Trump is the third president in U.S. history to be impeached, following President Andrew Johnson and President Bill Clinton, who were also both acquitted by the Senate. 

Trump, who transferred to Wharton as an undergraduate after spending two years at Fordham University, frequently cites his Penn education. Despite his public affiliation with the University, Penn President Amy Gutmann and the rest of the University’s administration have largely steered away from addressing Trump or his policies. 

The trial's final decision comes after the Senate voted 51-49 on Friday to block new witnesses and documents from appearing in the courtroom, all but solidifying his Wednesday acquittal. 

Though Republican senators condemned Trump’s actions, the majority did not consider them to be impeachable offenses. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Ak.) called Trump's actions "shameful and wrong," but asserted that voters will have the opportunity to decide in nine months whether he is fit for the presidency. 

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) expressed his disappointment in the Senate after the Friday vote to ban new materials from the trial. 

“If the president is acquitted, with no witnesses, no documents, the acquittal will have no value because Americans will know that this trial was not a real trial," he told The New York Times

The impeachment inquiry began last September after a whistleblower filed a complaint about a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which Trump pressured Zelensky to investigate Biden and his son Hunter. During the inquiry, Trump defied subpoenas for testimony, prompting the second impeachment article. 

The final impeachment vote occurred days after the tumultuous Iowa caucus and Trump’s State of the Union address, where Trump did not once mention the word "impeachment," and instead focused on the economy, health care legislation, and foreign policy.

According to a recent Gallup poll, Trump’s approval rating is currently at the highest of his presidency at 49%. Prior to the recent Senate trials, however, Americans remained split along partisan lines on whether or not Trump should be removed from office. 

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