End to Impeachment Saga of Donald Trump

After US President Donald Trump was impeached in December 2019 on the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress; he was found not guilty in his impeachment trial with the final vote of 48-52.

Crux of the Matter
  • 48 senators voted to convict Trump whereas 52 voted to acquit him. For a successful impeachment two-thirds of the Senate, or 67 votes were required.
  • It has happened for the first time in the US history that a Republican has voted to impeach the President from his own party. Sen. Mitt Romney voted to impeach the President in Trump’s trial.
  • Apart from Mitt Romney; two other moderate Republicans, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski were not supporting Trump but they did not vote against their party.
  • Republicans sided with Trump by saying ‘it was not a serious enough offense to remove him from office’.
  • Democrats expressed concern over Trump’s acquittal being a threat to US democracy. They also raised concerns over Russia interfering in another US election.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “Mr. Trump remains an ongoing threat to American democracy and that Senate Republicans had normalized lawlessness.”

Timeline of Donald Trump’s Impeachment

On September 14, 2019, an anonymous whistleblower complaint was lodged accusing Donald Trump of using the power of his office to seek interference from Ukraine in the 2020 U.S. election over a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25, 2019.

The complaint included call details of Trump withholding nearly $400 million military-aid package to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

On 24 September, a formal impeachment inquiry was announced by Democratic Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. Trump also released a copy of the rough transcript of the 25 July call. By the end of September, Mike Pompeo was suspected to have taken part in the 25th July phone call.

In early October; US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland was testified.  Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a Ukraine expert on the US National Security Council highlighted some crucial omissions in the transcript of the call released by the White House.

On 31 October, The House voted 232-196 on the impeachment inquiry, which formalized the process for the public hearings.

In November, acting ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor, Deputy Assistant secretary of state George Kent faced an inquiry and were testified. Also, Marie Yovanovitch (Former US ambassador to Ukraine), Fiona Hill and David Holmes also testified.

On December 5, Speaker Pelosi announced the drafting articles of impeachment which were unveiled on 10th December and approved by the panel with a 23-17 vote.

On December 18, the House of Representatives voted in favor of the two articles of impeachment related to his efforts to pressurize Ukraine into interfering in the 2020 election while he withheld $400 million military aid.

On January 16,  Trump’s trial in the senate began after Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts was sworn into his presiding role. He also swore in the Senate’s 100 representatives who acted act as jury in the trial.

On January 21, the Republicans voted to reject 11 amendments proposed by Democrats. The prosecution made its opening arguments from January 22 to 24, and the defense from January 25 to 28. This was followed by a period of questions, answers, and debate. 

On 5 February 2020 – The trial ended as the Senate voted to acquit Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.


Impeachment Procedure in US
Article One of the United States Constitution gives the House of Representatives the sole power of impeachment and the Senate the sole power to try impeachments of officers of the U.S. federal government. In the US, impeachment is only the first of two stages, and conviction during the second stage requires ‘the concurrence of two-thirds of the members present’. Impeachment does not necessarily result in removal from office; it is only a legal statement of charges, parallel to an indictment in criminal law. More Info

History of Impeachments of US Presidents
The House of Representatives has initiated impeachment proceedings only 64 times since 1789. Out of which only 19 proceedings actually resulted in the House’s passing Articles of Impeachment, and of 19 only 8 resulted in removal from office who were all federal judges.

Three United States presidents have been impeached by the House of Representatives: Andrew Johnson in 1868, Bill Clinton in 1998, and Donald Trump in 2019

All three were acquitted and not removed from office by the Senate. An impeachment process was also initiated against the 37th President Richard Nixon, but he resigned in 1974 to avoid likely impeachment.