Whitehouse: The facts are clear, the conduct impeachable, and the obstruction unprecedented

U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse voted to convict President Donald Trump on both articles of impeachment in front of the Senate on Wednesday, though the president was ultimately acquitted of all charges in a vote largely along party lines. It was the third impeachment trial and third acquittal of a president in American history. 

In a proceeding which lasted about five months, the U.S. House in January introduced two articles of impeachment against Trump charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The U.S. Senate is made up of 53 Republicans and 47 Democrats, and the vote to either convict or acquit the president of the impeachment charges was made nearly entirely along majority-minority lines, with Mitt Romney the lone Republican voting to convict, a move he snagged headlines for. All Senate Democrats voted to impeach Trump, including Reed and Whitehouse, who have been vocal opponents of the president since the 2016 election.  

“The facts are clear, the conduct impeachable, and the obstruction unprecedented – and yet the White House and its allies in the Senate have stymied the Constitution’s process for removing a corrupt president,” said Whitehouse in a statement issued Wednesday. “Martin Luther King Jr. once said: ‘It is . . . midnight within the moral order. At midnight colors lose their distinctiveness and become a sullen shade of grey.  Moral principles have lost their distinctiveness. . . Midnight is a confusing hour when it is difficult to be faithful.  The most inspiring word . . . is that no midnight long remains.  The weary traveler by midnight who asks for bread is really seeking the dawn. Our eternal message of hope is that dawn will come.’ It is, indeed, moral midnight for this body, but dawn will come.”

Reed shared a similar sentiment, stating that the need for a vote was unfortunate and a proceeding he took no pleasure in.  

“Today the U.S. Senate is called upon to uphold our oath of office and our duty to the Constitution because President Trump failed to do so himself,” he said. “After listening closely to the impeachment managers and the president’s defense team, carefully weighing the evidence that was presented to us–and being denied the opportunity to see relevant documents and hear from firsthand witnesses –I will vote to find President Trump guilty on both articles of impeachment. I take no pleasure in voting to impeach a president and remove him from office. I agree with those who say impeachment should be rare and American voters should decide our elections. That is why it is so galling that President Trump blatantly solicited foreign interference in our democratic process. And he did it as he geared up for re-election.” 

The charges stem from allegations that the President withheld Congressionally approved aid to Ukraine in exchange for political favors from the country that would ultimately boost his 2020 re-election campaign and a subsequent alleged cover up of those actions.  

“The evidence shows President Trump deliberately and illicitly sought foreign help to manufacture a scandal that would elevate him by tarnishing a political rival,” said Reed. “He attempted to undermine our democracy, using U.S. taxpayer money in the form of U.S. military aid for Ukraine as leverage for his own personal benefit. Compounding the President’s misconduct, he then engaged in an extended cover up that appears to be ongoing. The Constitution grants the Executive branch significant power, but as every student in America learns: our system is one of checks and balances so that no branch is entirely unfettered from oversight and the law. President Trump would have us believe this system of checks and balances is wrong.” 

“I hope one day the damage can be repaired,” Reed continued. “The arc of history is indeed long, and it does bend toward justice – but not today…The Constitution is our national compass. But at this critical moment, clouded by the fog of President Trump’s misconduct, the Senate majority has lost its way and declined to be guided by our Constitution.” 

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