'Let's open our eyes': Illinois senators call Trump acquittal a mistake

This story has been corrected to reflect the accurate Senate vote count on the abuse of power charge.

Illinois' two Democratic senators invoked history in explaining their votes to convict President Donald Trump of abuse of power Wednesday.

The Senate voted 52-48 mostly on party lines to acquit Trump. Sens. Dick Durbin of Springfield and Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates voted guilty with all other Democrats and two independents. Utah Republican Mitt Romney was the sole senator who broke ranks, also voting guilty while all the other Republicans didn't.

The decision was "the most important test any elected official must take - whether to put country over party or party over country," Duckworth said in a speech on the Senate floor.

"Let's open our eyes to the morning after a judgment of acquittal," Durbin said in the Senate. "We, the Senate, will have absolved a president who continues to brazenly invite foreign interference in our elections, and we can expect more of the same."

House and Senate Democrats say evidence shows Trump abused his power by withholding financial military aid from Ukraine to pressure its president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to investigate political foe and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Trump, who is backed by a majority of GOP lawmakers, denies any wrongdoing and has called the process a political witch hunt.

In her Senate speech Wednesday, Duckworth said, "it may be a politically difficult vote for some of us, but it should not be a morally difficult vote for any of us. I know America would never have been born if the heroes of centuries past made decisions based on political expediency.

"It would have been easier to keeping bowing down to King George III than push 342 chests of tea into the Boston harbor but those patriots knew the importance of rejecting what's easy if it's in conflict with what is right."

Durbin recalled visiting Ukraine in 2014 with a congressional delegation after Russia had invaded Crimea.

"During the months President Trump illegally withheld aid, as many as two dozen Ukrainians soldiers were killed in battle," he said. "Can there be any deeper betrayal ... than to endanger our national security and the security of an ally for his own personal political gain? What this president has done to Ukraine has crossed a line. It is impeachable."

The Senate also acquitted Trump of obstruction of Congress in a 53-47 vote, with all Republicans voting not guilty, and all Democrats and independents voting guilty.

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Dick Durbin
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