15:00 GMT20 February 2020
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    On 5 February, the US Senate found President Donald Trump not guilty of both charges in the impeachment trial, putting an end to the months-long Democratic efforts to impeach the president over his 25 July conversation with Ukraine's Zelensky, but questions remain as to whether the Democrats will try to find another way to hit back at Trump.

    Dr George Szamuely, a senior research fellow at the Global Policy Institute, has shared his reflections on the matter.

    According to the professor, there were few surprises in the impeachment vote. The vote on the first article of impeachment was 48 to convict and 52 to acquit; the vote on the second article of impeachment was 47 to convict and 53 to acquit. Thus, he concluded, President Trump was acquitted, with the number voting to remove the president falling well short of the necessary 67.

    Democrats 'Kept Troops in Line', Only Deviation on Republican Side

    Szamuely noted that the vote was, by and large, along party lines on the Democratic side.

    "The Democrats kept their troops in line. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who, coming from a red state that Trump carried handily in 2016, was considered to be someone who might vote to acquit. Yet, she voted with her party to convict Trump on both articles. The same went for Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), whose state Trump carried by more than 30 points. Yet Manchin too voted to convict on both articles", Szamuely said.

    He pointed out that the only deviation from party-line voting came on the Republican side. Commenting on GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's (R-Utah) decision to convict Trump on the "abuse of power" charge, the expert said it was "not entirely a surprise" given that Romney had already bucked his party when he voted to call more witnesses.

    Nonetheless, Szamuely said that the vote to convict and thus remove an incumbent president from one's own party was a big deal, which had never happened before in US history, this being the third time the Senate has ever voted on impeachment.

    "This is the first time that a senator has voted to convict a president from his own party. However, Romney's vote did not make very much sense. He insisted that he wanted to hear from more witnesses. But if he needed to hear from more witnesses, how could he conclude that the president was guilty?", Szamuely said.

    He pointed out that under the US legal system, the burden of proof is on the prosecution; if the evidence doesn't suffice, then one has to acquit.

    However, it was unlikely that Romney would suffer any adverse consequences, according to Szamuely. 

    "He is 72; he has no presidential ambitions, having already run twice and failed twice; and he is not up for re-election to the Senate until 2024", Szamuely explained.

    Moreover, he added, the Senate as an institution prides itself on courtesy and mutual respect, so it was unlikely that too much animus would be directed at Romney—any such animus would dissipate before very long.

    Democrats Likely to Try to Find New Issue to Use Against Trump

    Szamuely thinks that the impeachment vote ends nothing and that the Democrats will continue to find ways to remove Trump from office.

    He noted that the House Judiciary Committee under the chairmanship of Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) was already promising to subpoena former National Security Adviser John Bolton, and said that the investigations based on the Mueller probe ("Did Trump obstruct justice?") and the Ukraine probe would continue without interruption.

    "Chances are that Democrats will find a new issue and again proclaim that they have irrefutable evidence that Trump was soliciting foreign interference in a US election. It is quite possible that the Democrats will launch yet another impeachment inquiry before the end of the year."

    Szamuely said that this would become all the more certain as the Democrats' chances of winning the November election fade away. 

    "Impeachment will soon become as American as apple pie", he concluded.

    In September 2019, House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump over a whistle-blower complaint that the US president "pressured" his Ukrainian counterpart Wolodymyr Zelensky to investigate potential corruption dealings of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, when the latter was on the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma.

    Trump has repeatedly dismissed the impeachment proceedings as another "witch-hunt" initiated by the Democrats in a bid to reverse the outcome of the 2016 election.

    Joe Biden also admitted to threatening to withhold some $1 billion in US military aid to Kiev unless the Ukrainian prosecutor, who probed Burisma over possible corruption while Hunter Biden was on the board, was dismissed. 

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    Mitt Romney, professor, Donald Trump, Hunter Biden, call, Democrats, vote, opinion, impeachment, United States
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