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East front of the U.S. Capitol. July 16, 2018. (Humberto Sanchez/The Nevada Independent)

The Senate on Wednesday voted to acquit President Donald Trump on charges that he abused the power of his office to invite foreign interference in the 2020 election and that he obstructed Congress by not cooperating with a House investigation into the matter.

After a historic impeachment trial lasting a little more than two weeks, the Senate defeated the abuse of power charge with 52 voting not guilty and 48 voting guilty. The charge of obstruction of Congress was defeated 53 to 47. 

Trump is now only the third president, behind Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, to be impeached by the House and acquitted by the Senate.

Sixty-seven guilty votes were needed to remove Trump. Utah Sen. Mitt Romney was the only Republican to vote guilty on the charge of abuse of power. 

Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald harshly criticized Romney for his vote calling him a “Judas”, “traitor” and “sanctimonious.”

Romney will “pay the penalty of being shunned by the Republican Party,” McDonald said adding “you do not deserve to be a senator any longer.” 

As expected, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Sen. Jacky Rosen voted guilty on both articles of impeachment.

“I was sent to Congress not just to fight for all Nevadans, but also to fight for our children and their future,” she said in a statement for the impeachment trial record. “To leave them with a country that still believes in right and wrong. That exposes corruption in government and holds it accountable. That stands up to tyranny at home and abroad.”

“That is why I cannot condone this president’s actions by acquitting him,” Cortez Masto said.

Rosen, who asked four questions during 16 hours of inquiries put to the seven Democratic impeachment managers and the president’s lawyers, said she too was convinced by the evidence.

“I listened to the arguments, took detailed notes, asked questions, and heard both sides answer questions from my colleagues,” Rosen said in a statement for the impeachment record. “After thorough consideration, based on the evidence presented, sadly I find I have no choice but to vote to remove the President from office."

Democrats argued that Trump acted improperly by withholding military aid to Ukraine, and a White House visit for President Volodymyr Zelensky, to force the Ukrainian government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a potential political rival for the presidency. They also contend he sought to cover up his alleged wrongdoing by not cooperating with the investigation.

Cortez Masto said she thought of the framers' intention in establishing a system of checks and balances as well as the words of President Abraham Lincoln on the idea of a government “of the people, by the people, for the people."

“With a heavy heart and great sadness, I became convinced by the evidence that President Trump intentionally withheld security assistance and a coveted White House meeting to pressure Ukraine into helping him politically, even though Ukraine was defending itself from Russia,” Cortez Masto said. “This wasn’t an action ‘of the people, by the people, for the people.’”

The president’s lawyers argued that Trump held up the funds over concerns about corruption in Ukraine and a desire to pressure America’s European allies to shoulder more of the financial burden.

But Rosen said that the transaction was not a mere policy difference between the president and his critics, as Republicans including Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have argued.

“This is no mere policy disagreement – this is about whether the President negotiates with foreign governments on behalf of the United States, or on his own behalf,” she said. 

The president’s lawyers argued that the process was flawed, in part because House Democrats did not allow the president’s attorneys to cross-examine witnesses at depositions and hearings. The president’s legal team also said that, even if true, the president acted within his authority and that abuse of power is not impeachable. 

They also urged that the voters should decide Trump’s fate and that to remove him from office would deny them that democratic responsibility.

“But if this were the standard, then the impeachment clause could only ever be utilized in the second term of a Presidency, when no upcoming election would preserve the country,” Cortez Masto said.

Both Nevada senators were also convinced that Trump obstructed Congress and noted that the president’s unwillingness to cooperate raises hurdles to its exercise of oversight.   

“The President’s refusal to negotiate in good faith with the House investigators over documents and testimony, and instead to impede any investigation into his official conduct, can only be characterized as blatant obstruction,” Rosen said.

“More importantly, it suggests that he will continue to operate outside the law, and if he believes he can ignore lawful subpoenas from Congress, it will be impossible to hold him accountable,” Rosen said.

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