Trump acquitted at impeachment trial
Two Republican Senate committee chairmen requested Hunter Biden's travel information from when his father, Joe Biden, was vice president from the Secret Service director on Wednesday following the Senate's vote to acquit in the impeachment trial of President Trump.
Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley, of Iowa, and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson, of Wisconsin, announced in a letter to Secret Service Director James Murray that their panels "are reviewing potential conflicts of interest posed by the business activities of Hunter Biden and his associates during the Obama administration."
"We write to request information about whether Hunter Biden used government-sponsored travel to help conduct private business, to include his work for Rosemont Seneca and related entities in China and Ukraine," the chairmen wrote, referencing a firm co-founded by Hunter Biden.
Some context: The chairmen's timing is notable, as the impeachment trial centered largely on Trump's attempts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden and Joe Biden, his potential political rival.
Trump has repeatedly made unfounded and false claims to allege that the Bidens acted improperly in Ukraine.
CNN has reached out to the Secret Service for comment. A spokesperson for Joe Biden's presidential campaign declined to comment.
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.
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.
President Trump was in the Oval Office watching the vote in the Senate this afternoon, his adviser Kellyanne Conway told reporters on the White House lawn this evening.
Conway also said the President will meet with members of his legal team later tonight.
Conway said the President was “in the Oval Office at that time,” as the votes came in, adding that she was “in and out” of the office, along with others.
“He had a bunch of other meetings, other things going on, and he’s with his legal team later tonight,” she said, “and he’s just very pleased.”
The President is going to a dinner in the residence tonight that has been “planned for a while” and “has nothing to do with today’s events,” Conway said. She would not say with who.
Conway also downplayed Sen. Mitt Romney’s vote to remove the President from office and leaned on bipartisan opposition to impeachment in the House in her first comments after the President’s acquittal in the Senate.
Asked by CNN about the fact that the acquittal wasn’t bipartisan and about the White House reaction to Romney’s vote, Conway said she didn’t “have much of a reaction to that.”
Vice President Mike Pence celebrated the President’s acquittal while giving remarks to a Women for Trump event in Pennsylvania today.
In his first public comments since the Senate voted not to remove the President from office, Pence told the crowd that it has been an, “incredible week.”
“Just a little while ago the United States Senate voted to acquit President Donald Trump on both articles of impeachment,” Pence said, to which the crowd cheered and began a chant of “four more years.”
“After months of a sham investigation and a partisan investigation,” Pence announced, “it’s over America.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the decision to acquit President Trump on the two articles of impeachment an act of "lawlessness" orchestrated by Sen. Mitch McConnell, a "rogue leader in the Senate who would cowardly abandon his duty to uphold the Constitution."
Pelosi released the statement this afternoon after Trump was acquitted of both abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
“President Trump was impeached with the support of a majority of the American people – a first in our nation’s history. And now he is the first President in history to face a bipartisan vote to convict him in the Senate. A full 75% of Americans and many members of the GOP Senate believe the President’s behavior is wrong. But the Senate chose instead to ignore the facts, the will of the American people and their duty to the Constitution," Pelosi said.
Pelosi added: "The President will boast that he has been acquitted. There can be no acquittal without a trial, and there is no trial without witnesses, documents and evidence. By suppressing the evidence and rejecting the most basic elements of a fair judicial process, the Republican Senate made themselves willing accomplices to the President’s cover-up."
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said the Senate's acquittal vote today is "full vindication and exoneration" for President Trump.
"As we have said all along, he is not guilty. The Senate voted to reject the baseless articles of impeachment, and only the President’s political opponents – all Democrats, and one failed Republican presidential candidate – voted for the manufactured impeachment articles," she said in a statement.
She added that despite the impeachment investigation and trial, Trump has "successfully advanced the interests of the United States and remained focused on the issues that matter to Americans."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to say whether President Trump's conduct was inappropriate when pressed multiple times by reporters at a news conference this afternoon after the Senate acquitted the President of both charges.
McConnell spoke about the political impact of impeachment saying it has been helpful for his members in difficult races. McConnell also said he was “surprised and disappointed” with GOP Sen. Mitt Romney’s vote to convict Trump on the first article of impeachment.
“I can tell you this, right now, this is a political loser for them,” McConnell said, referring to Democrats. “They initiated it, they thought this was a great idea and at least for the short term, it has been a colossal political mistake."
Asked if he’s willing to concede if Trump did anything wrong, the Kentucky Republican dodged the question and said he wanted to talk about today and the "political impact of this.” Some of McConnell's GOP colleagues have said that it's inappropriate for the President to investigate a foreign rival.
“Listen, we voted,” McConnell said. “It’s time to move on ... as far as I’m concerned it’s in the rear-view mirror.”
President Trump just tweeted that he'll speak from the White House tomorrow about the impeachment trial, which ended today with his acquittal.
He said he'll deliver a statement at noon ET.
Today, the Senate voted to acquit President Trump on two articles of impeachment.
On the article of abuse of power, the Senate found the President not guilty by a vote of 52-48, with Republican Sen. Mitt Romney breaking ranks and joining the Democrats voting not guilty. On the article of obstruction of congress, the Senate found him not guilty by a vote of 53-47.
Regardless of today's vote, Trump will remain impeached forever. Similarly, former President Bill Clinton was impeached by the House but acquitted in his Senate trial. Trump has joined Clinton and President Andrew Johnson as the only three Presidents in US history who have been impeached.
Today's acquittal brings nearly five months of the impeachment inquiry and trial that sprang forth from a whistleblower's complaint over Trump's comments to the President of Ukraine over the summer to an end.
But there could be more investigations to come: Democrats have vowed to continue investigating Trump and his administration, and that includes some unanswered questions that came up during this impeachment investigation.
A key development to watch is whether the Democratically-controlled House committees will subpoena former national security adviser John Bolton.
Bolton, who never testified during the House inquiry, said last month that he'd be willing to testify in the Senate trial if subpoenaed. The Senate voted against seeking witness testimony, but the House has said it'll continue its investigations and kept the door open to calling Bolton to testify.