WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A smattering of applause briefly interrupted the chatter in the bar of the Trump International Hotel in Washington when the U.S. Senate voted against the first article of impeachment against President Donald Trump.
The outcome had been expected. Mitt Romney was the lone lawmaker to break with his party as the Senate acquitted Trump on impeachment charges stemming from his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, who is seeking the Democratic nomination to face Trump in the Nov. 3 election.
Robert Whooley and Bonnie McPhillips, who were in Washington for a substance abuse prevention convention, celebrated by taking a selfie in front of televisions mounted behind the bar showing the vote as their backdrop. Whooley donned a Make America Great Again cap.
“I’m very happy because I think the whole thing was a sham to begin with, and it’s good to see closure to it,” said Whooley, 63, of Chicago. “I think we should move on.”
“I wanted to be here and watch it and see history made,” he added.
The vote against the second article brought louder applause and some whoops of delight from patrons, some of whom also took selfies in front of the TVs announcing the historic verdict.
“We’re thrilled. We’re Trump supporters,” said Kathleen Steininger, who was sitting at the bar with her husband Rick when the acquittal votes were taken. “It was all a waste of money.”
The impeachment of one of the most polarizing presidents in modern U.S. history will get a final verdict in November’s presidential election, with the bases of both parties energized.
More than 200 “Reject the Cover-Up” protests are planned around the nation on Wednesday in response to Trump’s acquittal, said Sean Eldridge, a former congressional candidate and the founder of Stand Up America, a liberal activist group that is helping to organize the protests.
HUB FOR TRUMP
At the Trump Hotel bar, many paid scant attention to the television coverage of the Senate votes until the final tallies were shown. After the result, they quickly returned to their conversations or to pecking on their cellphones.
Since opening in September 2016, the Trump International has become Washington’s hub for Trump, from Cabinet secretaries and foreign dignitaries seeking to curry favor with the administration to the president himself, hangers-on and red-hat-wearing tourists.
Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, was seen briefly walking through the lobby on Wednesday. Britain’s Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage was nursing a drink near the lobby bar when Trump was acquitted.
“I mean, the whole country has been through an agonizing process for nothing,” said Farage, who was in Washington to watch Trump deliver his State of the Union speech on Tuesday. “It was always clearly political. It was never, ever going to qualify as a high crime.”
“The one word… for this whole impeachment process is grubby.”
The Trump Organization said in October it was exploring a sale of the rights to its Washington hotel, partly out of concerns raised by ethics watchdogs and emoluments lawsuits that Donald Trump is profiting off of his presidency. The hotel took over the historic Old Post Office building on Pennsylvania Avenue in the heart of the capital.
(This story has been refiled to delete repeated paragraph).
Reporting by Jonathan Landay; writing by Bill Tarrant; Editing by Cynthia Osterman