kennedy cassidy trump file

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., speaks at a campaign rally for President Donald Trump, left, in Monroe, La., Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019. At right is Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

WASHINGTON — Louisiana's Republican U.S. senators helped acquit President Donald Trump in his impeachment trial, both voting "not guilty" on articles of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, and U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, R-Madisonville, had signaled they wouldn't support removing Trump from office over allegations that he leveraged military aid to Ukraine while having urged its president to announce it would investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

"Because high crimes and misdemeanors are not specifically defined, it is reasonable to assume that the Framers meant for impeachment to occur only if a crime approached levels as severe as treason and bribery," Cassidy said Tuesday. "The allegation against President Trump was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and it does not meet that high threshold."

Kennedy described the impeachment process as one being driven by "partisan rage."

"Fairness matters in our country," he said.

Kennedy's and Cassidy's offices fielded thousands of calls over the impeachment trial in the past two weeks, but both have firmly stood by the Republican president.

The House voted to impeach Trump in a near party-line vote in December, but the Senate required support from two-thirds of members to remove him from office. The Senate's acquittal ends a months-long saga that has consumed the U.S. Capitol and driven a further partisan wedge between Republicans and Democrats.

The only Republican to cross party lines and vote for impeachment was Utah Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah. He voted "guilty" on the first article of abuse of power, which failed on a 52-48 vote, but "not guilty" on obstruction of Congress, which failed on a 53-47 vote. 

Louisiana Republicans and supporters of Trump were quick to express their glee over the outcome.

"The coup has been defeated," U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins, R-Port Barre, declared minutes after the vote was final.

"This is great news for the American people," said U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, an Alto Republican who ran for governor last year and campaigned alongside Trump.

U.S. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, a Jefferson Republican who has been a key ally of Trump, said the process has "irreparably cheapened" impeachment as a constitutional tool. "Democrats were willing to tear our country apart just to remove President Trump from the Oval Office and the 2020 ballot," he said. "This failed impeachment will be Speaker Pelosi’s only legacy. President Trump, on the other hand, will continue to deliver results for American families, unburdened from Democrats’ ridiculous attempt to take him down."

U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Bossier City, was part of Trump's defense team.

"(Trump) has finally been acquitted of the baseless, unprecedented impeachment charges brought by the House Democrats," he tweeted shortly after the vote. 

Email Elizabeth Crisp at ecrisp@theadvocate.com and follow on Twitter, @elizabethcrisp.