US President Donald Trump survives impeachment trial

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WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump warded off his gravest threat to his three-year-old presidency with the staunch Republican support on Wednesday.

 

The impeachment approved by the Democratic-led House of Representatives on 18 December was defeated by the Republicans in the Senate.

In its historic vote on Wednesday, the Senate decided not to remove America's 45th president from office on charges arising from his dealings with Ukraine, reported BBC by 52 to 48 on the first, 53 to 47 on the second. The Democrats failed to muster two-thirds supermajority required for conviction.

If convicted on either charge, Trump would have had to turn over his office to Vice-President Mike Pence.

"Two-thirds of the senators present not having pronounced him guilty, the Senate adjudges that respondent Donald John Trump, President of the United States, is not guilty as charged," said Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who presided over the trial.

One Republican, Senator Mitt Romney, a long time Trump foe, risked White House wrath to vote alongside Democrats on the first count, saying Trump was "guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust." However, he voted not guilty for the second.

Democrats were dejected but not surprised, after an intense 78-day House investigation that faced public doubts and high-pressure stonewalling from the White House.

Anticipating the likely party-line vote by the senators, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi repeatedly said that, whatever happened, Trump would join two previous presidents as being tarred with the "impeached" label.

Pelosi originally rejected pressure early last year to impeach Trump on evidence compiled by then special counsel Robert Mueller that he had obstructed the Russia election meddling investigation.

But her concerns that it was a hefty political risk for Democrats less than two years before national elections melted after new allegations surfaced in August that Trump had pressured Ukraine for help for his 2020 campaign.

The White House reacted to the development saying Trump had got "full vindication and exoneration" in his impeachment trial.

After the Senate acquittal "the President is pleased to put this latest chapter of shameful behaviour by the Democrats in the past," spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said.

However, she also accused the opposition Democrats of trying to influence the upcoming presidential election and asked: "Will there be no retribution?"

With inputs from NDTV

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