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Trump emerges from impeachment politically strengthened

Donald Trump to become the first impeached president to seek re-election

The political aftershocks from the four-month impeachment showdown will shape the destiny of the presidency, influence races involving vulnerable Democratic and Republican senators in swing states and play into the Democrats’ fight to hold onto the House of Representatives.

President Donald Trump has been found not guilty in his impeachment trial, ending a bid to remove him from office that bitterly divided the US.

A hundred senators have cast judgment on President Trump, but the saga of his impeachment will only be put to rest when the ultimate jury — 150 million American voters — delivers a final verdict in November.

The Senate, run by the president’s fellow Republicans, voted to acquit him 52-48 on charges of abuse of power and 53-47 on obstruction of Congress.

Given the scandal and controversy constantly whirling around the President, the details of his pressure campaign on Ukraine — never really refuted by his impeachment trial defense team — may be long forgotten by November.

But the underlying cause of impeachment may be the most crucial issue on the ballot: The President’s determination to wield sweeping, unrestrained power and his refusal to accept the checks and balances invested in Congress.

Democrats charged Mr Trump in December with pressuring Ukraine to smear a potential White House rival.

He will now become the first impeached president to seek re-election.

Impeachment allows Congress – the part of the US government that writes and brings in laws – to put presidents on trial.

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It is a rare event and a political process, rather than a criminal one.

In its historic vote on Wednesday, the Senate decided not to remove America’s 45th president from office on charges arising from his dealings with Ukraine.

If convicted on either charge, Mr Trump would have had to turn over his office to Vice-President Mike Pence.

The Democratic-led House of Representatives approved the articles of impeachment on 18 December.

President Trump has always denied wrongdoing

Mr Trump, who is seeking a second four-year term in the 3 November election, always denied wrongdoing.

His re-election campaign said in a statement: “President Trump has been totally vindicated and it’s now time to get back to the business of the American people.

“The do-nothing Democrats know they can’t beat him, so they had to impeach him.” It said “this terrible ordeal” and “nonsense” was merely a Democratic campaign tactic.

The statement added: “This impeachment hoax will go down as the worst miscalculation in American political history.”

Mr Trump – whose personal approval rating with American voters hit a personal best of 49% this week, according to Gallup – tweeted that he would speak on Thursday about the case.

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