Donald Trump acquitted on both counts of impeachment

United States Capitol, Washington, DC. © Can Stock Photo / pazham

U.S. President Donald Trump has avoided being removed from office.

In the climax of a months-long impeachment drama, Trump was acquitted by the Senate on both articles of impeachment he faced.

The vote was 52 to 48 in favour of acquittal on the abuse of power charge, mostly along party lines. The vote on the obstruction article was 53 to 47 in favour of acquittal.

The U.S. Constitution requires a two-thirds vote to convict a sitting president and remove him from office. The vote came up short both times.

It was the third time in U.S. history that impeachment led to a trial in the Senate, after Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1999. Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 before the full House could decide on articles against him.

House Democrats had claimed that Trump abused the power of his office to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate his domestic political rival and interfere in the 2020 presidential election. The president was accused of withholding military aid for Ukraine in exchange for that country beginning an investigation into former vice-president Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

Trump was also accused of obstructing Congress, by ordering members of his administration and White House staff not to comply with duly-issued subpoenas from Congress.

Republicans in Congress had accused the Democrats of pushing impeachment charges due to personal dislike of Trump, as well as sour grapes over the outcome of the 2016 election. Democrats said the process was not politically-motivated and that no one, including the president, is above the law.