Trump acquitted at impeachment trial

By Veronica Rocha, Mike Hayes, Meg Wagner and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 10:03 PM ET, Thu February 6, 2020
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4:06 p.m. ET, February 5, 2020

White House thought there would be at least one Democrat supporting acquittal

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

In the days leading up to today's final vote, White House officials were confident in the outcome: President Trump would be acquitted. So instead they focused on having a bipartisan impeachment vote.

And with Sen. Romney's announcement he will vote yes on the articles, there will be a bipartisan vote — just not the one Trump's impeachment team wanted.

In discussions with Trump in the last several days, aides reassured him they could likely get at least one red state Democrat to vote for his acquittal, focusing on Doug Jones, Kyrsten Sinema or Joe Manchin.

Today, all three of those Democrats announced they would vote to convict Trump.

Officials seemed the most confident that Manchin would vote to acquit, based on conversations aides had with Republican senators in recent days. Then, moments before the vote Wednesday, Manchin announced he's voting yes on both articles. 

"I did not expect this," one official texted about the decision. 

4:02 p.m. ET, February 5, 2020

Why the GOP is frustrated with Romney behind the scenes

From CNN's Phil Mattingly and Lauren Fox

While Sen. Mitt Romney’s colleagues have said the Utah senator’s vote was a personal choice and one they generally respect, behind the scenes there is significant frustration with his decision to vote to convict President Trump. 

Romney did not tell any colleagues about his decision in advance of the speech this afternoon.

Yet his team did craft press rollout — several print interviews and a TV interview embargoed until his delivery — that has irked colleagues.

“I’ll give him this: professional rollout,” one GOP Senator told CNN. “Not very collegial, but very professional.”

A bigger issue, several GOP aides said, was the possibility Romney’s decision would step on the headline of the President’s acquittal in the press.

“All you guys are going to lead with Romney,” one senior GOP aide said. “Not the fact the President was acquitted and is through with this.”

Before the vote, members of GOP leadership had emitted a confidence that Romney would vote with them only to leave them all surprised watching TV.

To be clear, Romney was at the point where he owed his colleagues little.

His pleas for witnesses and documents in closed-door meetings in the final week were largely scoffed at and ignored, according to people in the room.

3:59 p.m. ET, February 5, 2020

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin will vote to convict Trump on both articles 

From CNN's  Manu Raju 

Sen. Joe Manchin will vote to convict President Trump on both articles of impeachment this afternoon, according to a statement.

This means that the vote will be 52-48 with only GOP Sen. Mitt Romney breaking ranks.

Here's what Manchin said in a statement:

"Voting whether or not to remove a sitting President has been a truly difficult decision, and after listening to the arguments presented by both sides, I have reached my conclusion reluctantly. For the reasons above I must vote yes on the articles of impeachment. I take no pleasure in these votes, and am saddened this is the legacy we leave our children and grandchildren. I have always wanted this President, and every President to succeed, but I deeply love our country and must do what I think is best for the nation.”

3:56 p.m. ET, February 5, 2020

Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema will vote to convict Trump

From CNN's Ali Zaslav 

Arizona Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema will vote to convict President Trump on both articles of impeachment, according to a statement from her office.

Her statement says:

“The facts are clear; security aid was withheld from Ukraine in an attempt to benefit the president’s political campaign. While White House attorneys claim this behavior is not serious, it is dangerous to the fundamental principles of American democracy to use the power of the federal government for personal or political gain. Worse, they failed to assure the American people that this behavior will not continue and that future national security decisions will be made free from personal interests."
3:46 p.m. ET, February 5, 2020

Joe Manchin says Romney's speech was "very powerful"

From CNN's Ted Barrett 

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin called Republican Sen. Mitt Romney's speech “very powerful, very powerful."

Manchin, of West Virginia, reacted to Romney's announcement as he walked on to the Senate floor for the vote.

He refused to say how he is going to vote but said he would not be impacted by Romney and that this would be his own decision.

3:39 p.m. ET, February 5, 2020

White House was caught off guard by Romney decision, officials say

From CNN's Jim Acosta and Kevin Liptak

The White House was caught off guard by GOP Sen. Mitt Romney's announcement today that he will vote to convict President Trump on the first article of impeachment — abuse of power, two White House officials tell CNN. 

Romney's announcement makes him the first GOP senator to sway from the party line.  

3:19 p.m. ET, February 5, 2020

How GOP senators are reacting to Romney's vote to convict

From CNN's Manu Raju, Haley Byrd and Ted Barrett

Sen. Mitt Romney and Sen. Lamar Alexander cross paths before the start of the State Of The Union address on Tuesday.
Sen. Mitt Romney and Sen. Lamar Alexander cross paths before the start of the State Of The Union address on Tuesday. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Republicans senators are weighing in on their colleague Mitt Romney's announcement that he will vote to convict President Trump this afternoon. Romney will be the first senator in US history to vote to convict a president from the same party in an impeachment trial.

Here's some of their reactions:

  • Sen. Richard Shelby told CNN he doesn’t think there will be any effort to punish Romney. Then he added, “He’s certainly not voting mainstream Republican — he’s voting Romney.”
  • Sen. Lamar Alexander, who is retiring, said, “I think every senator has the right to vote however he or she wants."
  • Sen. John Thune, the second-ranking Republican, said Romney "came to a different one than many of our colleagues." When asked if leadership tried to persuade him on this, Thune said: "He's made it very clear from the beginning, even on the witness vote, that he was going to go his own way. And we've not tried on this, I mean this is one of those historical votes where everyone has to do what they think is the right thing.”
2:47 p.m. ET, February 5, 2020

Romney will be the first senator in US history to vote to convict a president from the same party

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Sen. Mitt Romney said this afternoon that he will vote to remove President Trump from office on the House's charge of abuse of power, making the Utah Republican the first senator in US history to vote to convict a president from the same party in an impeachment trial.

According to CNN reporting from 1999, not one Democratic senator voted to convict President Bill Clinton, a fellow Democrat, on the charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.

In the 1868 impeachment of trial of President Andrew Johnson, a Democrat, none of the senators from his party voted to convict him, according to the US Senate.

3:38 p.m. ET, February 5, 2020

Romney’s vote to convict Trump puts one person in an awkward position: His niece

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

Ronna McDaniel
Ronna McDaniel Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/AP/FILE

Sen. Mitt Romney just announced he’ll vote to convict President Trump, becoming the first Republican to break rank with his party.

While this was expected inside the White House, one thing officials have been discussing behind the scenes for the last several days is the awkward position this vote will put his niece, and Republican National Committee chair, Ronna McDaniel in. 

She is very close to the President and his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, and the two often call Trump together to go over fundraising and poll numbers. Trump has complained to her regularly since Romney became a rare voice in the party who at times openly criticizes him. 

Trump has been particularly annoyed by Romney's comments about his call with the Ukrainian president over the last several months. 

"Ronna Romney McDaniel better declare her uncle persona non grata or there will be a major push by Trumpers in the RNC to censure the junior senator from Utah and perhaps, just perhaps, oust her," one RNC insider told CNN today.