This afternoon — and for the third time in history — the US Senate will vote on acquitting or convicting a president of multiple articles of impeachment. The outcome is one that’s essentially been expected since the trial started just over two weeks ago: President Donald Trump will be acquitted.
Given Republicans’ 53-person majority in the Senate, the votes are going to fall far short of the 67 needed to convict and remove the president from office.
Still, the vote is a striking one. It follows an acrimonious Senate trial — the shortest in history — during which House impeachment managers presented an overwhelming amount of evidence to make their case for the two articles of impeachment. Those two articles, first passed by the House last year, charge the president with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. They managers noted that Trump both conditioned military aid to Ukraine on the announcement of investigations into his political rivals and tried to block Congress from investigating at all.
Trump’s defense, however, effectively argued that a president has leeway to do whatever he wants if it’s in the interest of his reelection, and that any wrongdoing he committed did not warrant removal from office.
Several Republicans, including Sens. Susan Collins, Lamar Alexander and Rob Portman, have acknowledged that Trump’s actions were wrong. They’ve declined, however, to vote in favor of conviction, unlike Sen. Mitt Romney — who made a surprise announcement Wednesday that he would vote to convict on one article of impeachment.
What to expect
At this point, we pretty much know how everyone will vote, save for two Senate Democrats seen as potential defectors.
Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin have yet to reveal whether they will vote to convict or acquit — and both could peel away from their party, largely due to pressure from constituents.
Manchin, a senator from West Virginia — which went for Trump by double digits in 2016 — previously voted with Republicans on Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation and is known for defecting on contentious votes in the past. While he’s not up for reelection anytime soon, he’s repeatedly said he’s undecided about how he’ll vote.
“I do believe a bipartisan majority of this body would vote to censure President Trump for his action in this matter,” Manchin said earlier this week. “Censure would allow this body to unite across party lines.”
Sinema isn’t up for re-election either, though Arizona independents aren’t as supportive of impeachment, a dynamic that is likely to factor into her decision.
Senate Democrats are hoping to keep up a united front on the vote, much like Republicans have. In the House, no Republicans voted in favor of charging Trump with articles of impeachment. In the Senate, though, Romney has already guaranteed that the vote will be a bipartisan one.