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Not guilty: Senate acquits Trump despite Romney’s vote to convict

Check back for updates as the Deseret News reports live from Washington on the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump and related developments

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In this image from video, Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts arrives for the vote in the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020

Senate Television via Associated Press

Deseret News reporter Matthew Brown is in Washington, D.C., and will be publishing updates about the trial throughout the day.

Senate finds Trump not guilty on both charges

2:32 p.m. MST

The GOP-controlled Senate has now voted to acquit President Donald J. Trump on both articles of impeachment. The second article charging him with obstruction of Congress was defeated by a 53-47 vote on party lines.

As with the first article, the clerk read the entire article, which alleged that the White House defied lawful subpoenas, withheld documents and directed executive branch officials not to testify before House committees conducting the impeachment inquiry, and that these actions amounted to obstruction of Congress.

Both Utah senators voted “not guilty” with their fellow Republicans. The president was impeached by the House, controlled by Democrats, in December.

Following the vote, Chief Justice Roberts announced the President’s acquittal.

Senate acquits Trump on abuse of power

2:16 p.m. MST

The Senate has voted 52-48 to acquit President Donald J. Trump on the first article of impeachment which charged him with abuse of power.

After a clerk read the entire first article, Chief Justice John Roberts announced a roll call vote. A clerk read the names of each senator one by one. Each responded in turn saying simply “guilty” or “not guilty.”

The outcome was mathematically decided when Mitt Romney voted “guilty,” becoming the first senator in U.S. history to vote to remove a president of his own party, according to The New York Times. Mike Lee voted “not guilty” along with the Republican Party.

Video: Sen. Mitt Romney speech

1:50 p.m. MST

Watch Sen. Mitt Romney outline why he will vote to convict President Donald Trump on the senate floor Wednesday afternoon.

Donald Trump, Jr. attacks Romney on Twitter

1:16 p.m. MST

President Trump’s oldest son took to Twitter moments after Romney said he would vote to convict the president.

“Mitt Romney is forever bitter that he will never be POTUS. He was too weak to beat the Democrats then so he’s joining them now,” Trump Jr. tweeted after Romney’s floor speech.

Recall Romney? Conservative Twitter lambastes Utah senator

1:16 p.m. MST

In the wake of Mitt Romney’s announcement that he will vote to convict President Trump on abuse of power, the hashtag #recallromney is trending on Twitter.

Romney getting blowback on vote to convict

1:03 p.m. MST

Impeachment Today

What to know today in the impeachment trial:

  • This is the 13th and final day of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. The Senate will convene as a court of impeachment at 4 p.m. Eastern.
  • Before the Senate reconvenes, senators will continue giving floor speeches to explain their votes to constituents. Utah Republican Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney are expected to give speeches today.
  • Senators will take two separate votes on charges of abuse of power and on obstruction of Congress. They will each be asked to pronounce the president either guilty or not guilty on each charge.
  • The GOP-controlled Senate is expected to acquit the president, who said he would be making a statement after his acquittal.

Shortly after Sen. Mitt Romney announced he would be the lone Republican to convict Trump for abuse of power, the conservative group Americans for Limited Government issued a press release saying the freshman Republican disappointed Utah.

“Mitt Romney has proven that his venal nature and envy over President Trump’s election has overcome any rational judgment when it comes to impeachment,” said the organization’s president Rick Manning. “Romney’s vote to convict reveals much more about his lack of character than it does about President Trump. While this is not surprising, it is disappointing in that prior to the 17th Amendment, the legislature of the state of Utah would have been able to immediately remove him from representing their state.”

Romney chokes up invoking his faith in speech on vote to convict

12:30 p.m. MST

Sen. Mitt Romney was moving through his prepared speech when he got to the line: “I am a profoundly religious person.”

The 72-year-old lifelong Latter-day Saint took a long pause, appearing to gather his emotions as about two dozen reporters leaned forward to get a glimpse of the unique, emotional scene unfolding in a near empty chamber.

“I take an oath before God as enormously consequential,” he eventually continued. “I knew from the outset that being tasked with judging the President, the leader of my own party, would be the most difficult decision I have ever faced. I was not wrong.”

Romney knows his “inescapable conviction” will upset Republicans and Utahns

12:10 p.m. MST

The senator said, “I am aware that there are people in my party and in my state who will strenuously disapprove of my decision, and in some quarters, I will be vehemently denounced.”

“Does anyone seriously believe that I would consent to these consequences other than from an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me?” he asked hypothetically.

Romney: ‘The President is guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust’

12:07 p.m. MST

“The President asked a foreign government to investigate his political rival. The President withheld vital military funds from that government to press it to do so. The President delayed funds for an American ally at war with Russian invaders. The President’s purpose was personal and political. Accordingly, the President is guilty of an appalling abuse of the public trust,” Romney said. 

“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.”

Romney says senators, not voters, have a constitutional obligation to try Trump

12:04 p.m. MST

“The defense argues that the Senate should leave the impeachment decision to the voters. While that logic is appealing to our democratic instincts, it is inconsistent with the Constitution’s requirement that the Senate, not the voters, try the president,” Romney said.

“The verdict is ours to render,” the senator said.

Romney takes the floor, speaks of duty before God

12:03 p.m. MST

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney took the senate floor around 12:00 p.m. MST and began his speech addressing the Senate’s seemingly inevitable acquittal of Trump, who was impeached by the House in December. He said he hopes that division will not lead to disrespect.

“We have arrived at different judgments, but I hope we respect each other’s good faith,” Romney said.

He spoke of God and the magnitude of the decision he will make today.  

“I am a profoundly religious person. I take an oath before God as enormously consequential. I knew from the outset that being tasked with judging the President, the leader of my own party, would be the most difficult decision I have ever faced. I was not wrong.”

Lee: ‘I will be voting to defend this president’s actions’

11:15 a.m. MST

GOP Sen. Mike Lee confirmed what most knew before the Senate impeachment trial started. He will vote to acquit Trump of both abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Speaking to a largely empty chamber, the senior senator from Utah explained how an aggressively deteriorating balance of power and the creation of what he called a “4th branch” of unaccountable bureaucrats has led to the partisan rancor fueling the impeachment by the House.

He said the Trump administration acted within its constitutional authority to pause aid to Ukraine until it was satisfied that the taxpayer-funded aid would be well-spent. 

“I will be voting to defend this president’s actions. I’ll be voting against undoing the vote taken by the American people some three and a half years ago. I’ll be voting for the principle of freedom for the very principles our constitution was designed to protect.”

He called the articles of impeachment “deeply factually flawed” and  urged his colleagues to vote “not guilty.”

Was withholding military aid to Ukraine just sound finance?

10:36 a.m.

Evoking Trump’s nationalist domestic policy to defend the president’s withholding of military aid to Ukraine in light of suspected corruption in that country, Lee said, “I believe most Americans, they want the president to be careful how the President spends money.”

Lee: “We cannot remove the President...”

10:32 a.m.

High crimes and misdemeanors “are not the same things” Lee said. 

“We cannot remove the President of the United States for doing something that the law and the constitution allows him to do.” Lee said.

We’ve sworn to uphold that system, he told the senators.

Mike Lee conjures deep state in impeachment speech

10:19 a.m.

Utah Sen. Mike Lee — an unending supporter of the President — took the floor around 10:15a.m. MST to tell the Senate why he was going to vote to acquit Trump.

Lee began his speech defining the constitutional powers of the separate branches of government and invoked the federalism debate to argue that power has been taken from American people and centralized in the executive branch.

Trump is “a serious threat,” Lee said, to those that have been empowered by this phenomenon, alluding to what he has previously described as a “deep state.”

Mitt Romney to explain his verdict on Senate floor at 12 p.m. MST

10:05 a.m.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney will speak on the senate floor at noon to address his decision on President Donald Trump’s impeachment ahead of the vote later this afternoon.

Romney voted last week that witnesses should be called during the impeachment trial.

A live feed of the Senate floor speeches can be watched here.

Alabama Democrat will vote to convict Trump on both counts

9:34 a.m.

Alabama Sen. Doug Jones — perhaps the most vulnerable Democrat up for reelection in a state where Trump is popular — announced ahead of the vote that after many sleepless nights he had decided to vote to convict on both charges, Associated Press reported.

“Senators are elected to make tough choices,” Jones said in a statement. He noted the “gravity of this moment,”′ and said Trump’s actions were “more than simply inappropriate. They were an abuse of power. With impeachment as the only check on such presidential wrongdoing, I felt I must vote to convict.”

Senate Democrats return from Iowa caucus for final vote

9:05 a.m.

Four senate Democrats have returned from the presidential campaign trail this week to vote in the impeachment trial. The Democratic Party bumbled the start of the primary season on Monday as a collection of human and technical errors have dragged out the release of the Iowa caucus’ results. 71% of precincts have reported their results, according to The New York Times.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, currently in second place, has 25.2%. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar are at 18.4% and 12.6%, while Sen. Michael Bennet has received no support in Iowa.

Pete Buttigieg is leading the caucus with 26.8% and is tied with Sanders with 11 projected delegates.

Lee to speak on Senate floor around 10 a.m. Mountain time

8:55 a.m.

Utah GOP Sen. Mike Lee is among the majority Republicans who say they will vote to acquit Trump. He is to give a floor speech Wednesday around noon Eastern time to elaborate on his position.

“I expect to talk to the merits and to the process and both to the absence of proof and the deficiency of the articles as written,” Lee said.

Romney, who who hasn’t revealed how he will vote, is also expected to speak before the Senate reconvenes as a court of impeachment at 4 p.m. Eastern time.

A live feed of the Senate floor speeches can be watched here.

Trump steers clear of impeachment trial in State of the Union

6 a.m. MST

President Trump mentioned a lot of victories in his State of the Union speech Tuesday, but he avoided any mention of his expected acquittal today by the Senate on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

But impeachment ordeal hung over the chamber where Trump became the third president to be impeached in American history. Trump turned his back rather than shake the hand of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who left out the traditional “high privilege and distinct honor” in introducing a president.

Then the California Democrat took the last shot by tearing up a copy of the speech while Republicans cheered at the end as cameras were rolling.

Additional reporting by Jeff Parrott in Salt Lake City.