After GOP (minus one) acquittal, NV senators wary of an unchecked Trump

Cortez Masto says GOP Senate “abdicated” its check on presidency

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President Donald Trump and former National Security Adviser John Bolton in the Oval Office in August prior to Bolton's resignation. Republican senators refused to let Democrats call Bolton as a witness to testify in Trump's impeachment trial. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump has survived impeachment, but he didn’t emerge unscathed. 

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday acquitted Trump on charges that he abused his power by pressuring a foreign government to interfere in a U.S. presidential election and then obstructed a congressional investigation into his actions. 

The vote was almost entirely partisan, with the exception of Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, who was the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee. Romney voted “guilty” on Article I of the impeachment charges, abuse of power.

Democrats will continue to use Trump’s behavior and his status as an impeached president against him heading into the 2020 election.

Both of the impeachment articles fell far short of the two-thirds majority needed to convict Trump of high crimes and misdemeanors and remove him from office. Article I failed by a vote of 48-52. Article II alleging obstruction of Congress was defeated 47-53, with Romney siding with Republicans. 

Several senators submitted statements into the impeachment trial record explaining their vote Wednesday, including Nevada Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen, who said the evidence for both charges against Trump demonstrate he can’t be trusted.

Because Trump “held up Congressionally-approved military assistance to an ally fighting Russia in order to exact concessions from Ukraine that benefited him personally, we cannot trust the President to place national security over his own interests,” Rosen said, explaining her “guilty” vote on the abuse of power charge.

On her vote to impeach Trump on Article II, the obstruction of Congress charge, Rosen said Trump’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.”

“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.

In her statement for the trial record, Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto said by virtue of its Republican-led performance during the impeachment trial, “the Senate has abdicated its powerful check” on the executive branch.

“Without this important check, I am concerned about what the president will do next to put our republic in jeopardy,” Cortez Masto said.

“We’ve seen that President Trump is willing to violate our Constitution in order to get himself reelected,” she said, adding the evidence shows Trump “is willing to take any action, including cheating in the next election, to serve his personal interest.”

Nevada’s Democrats who voted for the impeachment articles in the House also issued statements Wednesday.

Rep. Dina Titus commended Romney but blasted his Republican colleagues, saying “history will judge them poorly for their cowardice.”

Rep. Steven Horsford said he was “disappointed both in the lack of courage displayed by Senate Republicans and that they voted to abdicate the Senate’s Constitutional duty of holding an impartial trial of the President’s wrongdoings.”

Trump was the third U.S. president impeached by the House; on Wednesday he also became the third president acquitted by the Senate. 

The vote comes after several months of partisan sniping over impeachment has dominated politics in Washington, but the end of the trial isn’t likely to alter the tenor on Capitol Hill. On the eve of the acquittal vote, Trump delivered a divisive State of the Union address. Following his remarks, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) publicly shredded her copy of the speech. 

Pelosi has stressed that impeachment will remain a stain on Trump’s tenure: “It is a fact when someone is impeached, they are always impeached. It cannot be erased.” 

Democrats and Republicans alike warned of the long-term damage the process has caused, although they each pointed fingers at the other side. 

“This partisan impeachment will end today, but I fear the threat to our institutions may not, because this episode is one of a symptom of something much deeper,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, accusing House Democrats of using impeachment power as a political weapon. 

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer complained that the Senate trial “wasn’t a trial by any stretch of the definition.” He and other Democrats were enraged when GOP senators voted against introducing witness testimony and additional documents into the Senate trial. 

“You cannot be on the side of this president and be on the side of truth,” Schumer said on the Senate floor ahead of the acquittal vote. 

House Democrats appear certain to continue investigations into the president. 

House Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) told reporters that he’s likely to subpoena John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser. Bolton reportedly wrote in a book manuscript that Trump told him he was withholding aid to Ukraine to force an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, NPR reported

For his part, after the vote Trump tweeted out a video that depicts him running for president indefinitely, set to composer Evard Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King.”