What happens now? And other unanswered questions from Trump’s impeachment trial

Click to play video: 'Surprise twist at Trump impeachment vote'
Surprise twist at Trump impeachment vote
WATCH: Surprise twist at Trump impeachment vote – Feb 5, 2020

After a weeks-long trial that saw bitter infighting and hours of arguments, the U.S. Senate has voted to acquit U.S. President Donald Trump of two impeachment-related charges.

The Republican-held upper chamber voted 52 to 48 on Wednesday afternoon to acquit the president of the first impeachment charge against him, abuse of power.

Senators voted 53 to 47 on the second impeachment article, obstruction of Congress.

At issue was whether Trump corruptly used the power of his office to pressure Ukrainian officials to announce separate investigations into former vice-president Joe Biden and his son Hunter, as well as into unsubstantiated claims that the country had meddled in the 2016 presidential election.

In December, the House of Representatives — Congress’ lower chamber — impeached Trump for both abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

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But even though he was impeached, Wednesday’s vote means Trump will remain in the office until the November general election.

Here’s what experts say could happen next.

Is impeachment over?

Aaron Ettinger, a political science professor at Carleton University, said after the acquittal vote, the impeachment process is “over and done with.”

“All that kind of drama of the past two years sort of gives way to November, I suppose,” he said.

However, Ettinger said Wednesday’s decision will “certainly” embolden Trump because he knows now that there are no “fetters on his activity.”

“He knows he’s not going to be held to account by the Senate and he knows that the Democrats have limited ability to constrain him in the House of Representatives,he said.

Ettinger said Trump motivates his base by acting like a “bull in the china shop.”

“They love it, he loves doing it,” he said. “And now he pretty much has free reign to do so until a general election removes him.”

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Click to play video: 'U.S. President Trump delivers his third State of the Union address'
U.S. President Trump delivers his third State of the Union address

Melissa Haussman, a political science professor at Carleton University, said Trump will be vocal about his acquittal.

“He’ll talk about the nature of the process, which he, of course, saw as political,” she said.

According to Donald Abelson, a professor of political science at St. Francis Xavier University, Trump’s position has ultimately been strengthened by the impeachment process.

“If you’re Donald Trump, you’ve had a great week,” he said. “Your approval ratings have never been higher.

“It’s hovering now at around 49 per cent.”

What’s next for the Democrats?

Abelson said now that the impeachment process is over, the Democrats will set their sights on the election.

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Many Democratic strategists, he said, are now focusing their efforts on the Senate, where one-third of U.S. senators are up for re-election.

Click to play video: 'Donald Trump’s impeachment trial expected to end with acquittal'
Donald Trump’s impeachment trial expected to end with acquittal

“If the Democrats can’t unseat him in 2020, if they can’t topple his presidency, they’re going to have to figure out how to contain him,” Abelson said. “And taking back the Senate would certainly help a great deal.”

He said if the Democrats controlled both of Congress’ chambers, it would be “virtually impossible” for Trump to work through his agenda.

Moving forward, the Democratic party should continue to remind the American public of Trump’s “corruption and criminality,” Ettinger said.

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“Even some of Trump’s most ardent supporters concede that he did what he did — what he is alleged to have done — but they have redefined it out of the realm of impeachable offences,” he said.

“So the Democrats just have to keep hammering on the fact that this guy is corrupt and criminal, [that he] doesn’t have the national interest in mind and hope that voters accept it.”

Could Trump be impeached again?

According to the U.S. constitution, there is nothing that prevents the Democrats from impeaching Trump again, though it would be unprecedented.

“Everything that is happening now is brand new,” Ettinger said. “We’ve never seen this before.”

Click to play video: 'Top Senate Republican lashes out at Democrats over Trump impeachment'
Top Senate Republican lashes out at Democrats over Trump impeachment
Trump is only the third U.S. president to be impeached, joining Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. A fourth president, Richard Nixon, resigned amid House impeachment hearings, but before a formal vote was held.
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Haussman, though, said she would be “very surprised” if the Democrats tried to impeach Trump a second time unless “significant new evidence” comes to light.

Trump was impeached. Can he be re-elected?

Even though Trump has been impeached, there is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that prevents him from running again.

In fact, Trump filed for re-election the same day he was inaugurated — back in January of 2017.

Click to play video: 'House did not rely on whistleblower complaint, says impeachment manager'
House did not rely on whistleblower complaint, says impeachment manager

Currently, the Democratic field, remains historically large, with 13 candidates seeking to oust Trump and become commander-in-chief.

And, even though he is the incumbent, Trump is facing opposition from within the GOP. Both Joe Walsh and William Weld are seeking the party’s nomination.

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The country’s next general election is scheduled to take place on Nov. 3.

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