Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) called President Trump’s acquittal on two House-passed articles of impeachment “virtually valueless” because Republicans blocked new witnesses from the Senate trial.
“Now that our Republican colleagues have rejected a fair trial — truth — there’s a giant asterisk next to the president’s acquittal. The asterisk says he was acquitted without facts. He was acquitted without a fair trial. And it means his acquittal is virtually valueless,” Schumer told reporters during a press conference on Wednesday.
With 67 votes needed to convict Trump, the outcome of the Senate trial was all but guaranteed with Republicans holding a 53-seat majority.
The bigger fight was over whether four Republicans would vote with Democrats to call new witnesses. In the end, two Republicans — Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) — voted to allow witnesses, falling short of a simple majority.
On Wednesday, Romney joined with every Democrat to try to convict Trump of abusing his power in his decision to delay the Ukraine aid but still fell short of the 67 votes needed. The second article, obstruction of Congress, was party line.
“A lot of Republicans, Leader McConnell, failed that test, failed to live up to what this country is all about, failed to live up to the truth,” Schumer said. “We made the fight for truth … and it created a bipartisan impeachment. That can never be erased from history. Never.”
Trump’s acquittal was the latest in a series of victories for the president this week: Democrats have been ensnared in a days-long imbroglio over the Iowa caucus results, Trump delivered his State of the Union on Tuesday night and a Gallup survey released this week found his approval rating at a personal high of 49 percent.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pointed to the Gallup survey as he declared victory on Wednesday, calling an impeachment a “colossal political mistake” for Democrats.
But Schumer brushed off the poll results on Wednesday, saying that is “not what motivated us here” and noting that “poll numbers go up and down.”
“I believe the American people will realize that this was one of the largest cover-ups in the history of our nation. … Make no mistake, the drip drip drip of evidence is going to keep coming out,” he added.
Trump’s decision to delay Ukraine aid is likely to stay in the spotlight for weeks. House Democrats have not ruled out trying to subpoena former national security adviser John Bolton.
Bolton is also poised to release a memoir next month, in which he will claim, according to The New York Times, that Trump tied Ukraine aid to the country helping investigate Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.