Trump acquitted at impeachment trial

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International desk, Feb 06: President Trump has been acquitted. And while he says he’ll extend the saga into another day with a statement tomorrow, at least some of his aides are looking ahead.The businessman-turned-politician, 73, survived only the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history – just like the two other impeached presidents – in his turbulent presidency’s darkest chapter. Trump now plunges into an election season that promises to further polarize the country.

Trump was acquitted largely along party lines on two articles of impeachment approved by the Democratic-led House of Representatives on Dec. 18. The votes to convict Trump fell far short of the two-thirds majority required in the 100-seat Senate to remove him from office under the U.S. Constitution.

The Senate voted 52-48 to acquit Trump of abuse of power stemming from his request that Ukraine investigate political rival Joe Biden, a contender for the Democratic nomination to face him in the Nov. 3 election. Republican Senator Mitt Romney joined the Democrats in voting to convict. No Democrat voted to acquit.

The Senate then voted 53-47 to acquit him of obstruction of Congress by blocking witnesses and documents sought by the House. Romney joined the rest of the Republican senators in voting to acquit on the obstruction charge. No Democrat voted to acquit.

Most pressing, those aides say, is containing the coronavirus outbreak in China. Administration efforts to combat the virus and prevent it from entering the US are already well underway. But some administration officials acknowledge there will be greater attention on the subject now that impeachment is over.

Next week the White House will present its yearly budget, which will be closely scrutinized as a list of administration priorities. Already, a dust-up ensued after the administration signaled it could propose cutting foreign aid to Ukraine, forcing them to announce the money would stay at current levels. The White House is planning a traditional roll-out for the proposal.

Trump himself is itching to ramp up his campaigning as the election year gets underway. He’ll be in New Hampshire next Monday on the eve of that state’s first-in-the-nation primary. But officials say he’s eager to add more events to his schedule — particularly as the Democratic race heats up.

One official said to expect at least one rally a week for the rest of the year. And though much depends on his other commitments, Trump has told aides he wants to eventually return to the pace he kept during the 2016 campaign.

Trump is also expected to scale up his fundraising efforts, including during a West Coast swing in the coming weeks.

There is little hope for major pieces of bipartisan legislation in the months ahead — a reality that predated impeachment but now appears intractable. Trump aides have still pushed forward on a measure that would lower costs of prescription drugs. And there remains discussion of potential tax measures the President could use on the campaign trail, but they remain in the very early stages, and Trump made no mention of a possible tax cut in his State of the Union address.

On the move: Trump will travel to India in the coming weeks on a state visit, where he’ll boost Prime Minister Narendra Modi, despite concerns over his overly nationalist bent.

But there isn’t a whole lot of other foreign travel outlooked for the rest of the year, particularly because the G7 summit will occur this June at Camp David.

Trump has invited Southeast Asian leaders for a meeting in Las Vegas next month, though it’s not clear how the planning for that has progressed. And he hasn’t said yet whether he’ll accept Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invitation to attend a military parade in May.

Source: News Agencies