Trump allies revel in end to 'hoax' impeachment; Democrats say votes 'normalized lawlessness'

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., called Wednesday's votes a "miscarriage of justice on the floor of the United States Senate."
Image: Kellyanne Conway
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway talks to reporters in the briefing room of the White House on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020.Evan Vucci / AP

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By Dartunorro Clark and Rebecca Shabad

Although President Donald Trump's acquittal was all but certain with Republicans holding the Senate majority, supporters of the president continued to rally behind him Wednesday after he was found not guilty of both articles of impeachment.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., posted a video on Twitter saying "Acquitted for life" while ripping the articles of impeachment, a parody of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's tearing up Trump's State of the Union address Tuesday night.

Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway also tweeted "#AcquittedForever."

Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., one of the president's closest allies in the Senate, said in a statement Wednesday that "the cloud over the presidency has been removed."

"This partisan-driven impeachment has done injury to the office of the presidency and was an injustice to President Trump," he said. "Unfortunately, I doubt my Democratic colleagues, who are being driven by unlimited hatred of President Trump, have the ability to move on."

Vice President Mike Pence responded in a tweet with an image of the American flag and the caption "PRESIDENT @realDonaldTrump." In a speech later Wednesday, Pence cited the impeachment vote to push for the president's re-election.

"You know, it's amazing to think about it, after months of a sham investigation, a partisan impeachment — it's over, America," he said, adding that "America needs four more years" of Trump.

Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter and senior adviser, echoed the language Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., used in his speech on the Senate floor in her reaction.

"This factional fever and incoherent, ill-conceived process has finally ended and the President has rightfully been acquitted," she tweeted. "It is time for our Country to move forward. Together. POTUS has accomplished so much and is just getting started. The best is yet to come!"

And Donald Trump Jr., the president's son, also responded, tweeting a meme of his father wearing sunglasses with the caption: "Colludes with winning."

"Now that their impeachment hoax is over maybe Democrats can actually come to the table and try to do some work for the American people for a change... but I won't hold my breath," he wrote.

Full coverage of President Donald Trump's impeachment trial

Only one Republican, Mitt Romney of Utah, deflected his party and voted guilty on the abuse of power charge. He voted not guilty on obstruction of Congress.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement that the impeachment "ended in the full vindication and exoneration" of Trump. The president also plans to give a speech at noon Thursday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., leaves a news conference on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.Samuel Corum / Getty Images

Democrats, meanwhile, expressed searing outrage at the acquittal votes, arguing that their Republican colleagues are giving all future presidents permission to ignore the law.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., rejected the notion that the president was exonerated, because Democrats' efforts to call witnesses and obtain key documents failed.

"The Senate turned its back on the truth, on a fair trial, on doing what the Founding Fathers wanted us to do. But Democrats walked out of the Senate chamber with their heads held high, because we sought the truth. We did everything we could to get the truth. The American people believe that," Schumer said.

"Now that our Republican colleagues have rejected a fair trial, truth, there's a giant asterisk next to the president's acquittal," he said. "The asterisk says he was acquitted without facts, he was acquitted without a fair trial, and it means that his acquittal is virtually valueless."

With some Republicans, such as Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Susan Collins of Maine, saying Trump's conduct toward Ukraine was wrong but not impeachable, many Democrats said that Republicans were engaging in a cover-up and that they were complicit in his misconduct.

Pelosi, D-Calif., laced into Republicans in a biting statement in which she said Republicans had "normalized lawlessness." She called McConnell "a rogue leader" and "cowardly," alleging that he had abandoned his oath.

"Our Founders put safeguards in the Constitution to protect against a rogue president. They never imagined that they would at the same time have a rogue leader in the Senate who would cowardly abandon his duty to uphold the Constitution," she said. "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."

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said on social media: "What Senate Republicans did to this impeachment 'trial' is a national disgrace that history will remember as a cynical and cowardly cover-up.

"It is a dark day for the truth and for American democracy," he said.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., tweeted that he fears that the Senate "has done serious damage to our democracy," and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., tweeted that the impeachment trial was "a sordid spectacle."

Download the NBC News app for full coverage of the Senate impeachment trial

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who's running for the Democratic presidential nomination, said in a lengthy statement: "A Republican acquittal of Donald Trump won't just mean that the current president is above the law, it will give a green light to all future presidents to disregard the law so long as it benefits their reelection."

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., who decried the lack of transparency in the trial in her closing remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday, quoted Trump from the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape and called the votes a "miscarriage of justice on the floor of the United States Senate."

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., said Wednesday on Twitter, "From this day forward, Senate Republicans are not just covering up for Trump's corrupt and criminal actions, they are complicit."

Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Cory Booker of New Jersey said in tweets that those who are dismayed by the outcome should still have faith in the country.

"These are hard times. People are frustrated and angry — but we must not be discouraged," Warren said. "Now more than ever, we must choose courage and hope over fear. Now is our moment to fight back. We have defeated corruption before, and we will do it again."

Booker said: "May we as a nation, when we face the betrayal of a president, the surrender of obligation by the Senate, may we meet this time with our actions of goodwill, of a commitment to love and to justice, and to elevating our country to be a light unto all nations."