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As the U.S. Senate voted Wednesday on the political future of President Donald Trump, people trickled into Honest John’s in Midtown Detroit where the impeachment trial was broadcast on the bar’s television sets.

At 4:30 p.m., Steven Zelinski from Detroit looked up at the television as the number hit 45 votes for not guilty on the charge of obstruction of Congress. "It’s over,” he said.

“It’s been over,” said Zelinski, 38. “The votes weren’t there because everyone’s sticking to party lines, and blocking witnesses was the first sign that he was going to get off."

Metro Detroiters seemed to have a mixed reaction as the Senate voted 52-48 to acquit Trump on abuse of power and 53-47 on obstruction of Congress, mostly along party lines. The House impeachment managers needed 67 guilty votes to oust Trump from office and fell about 20 votes short on each article of impeachment. 

Zelinski, shaking his head in disappointment, said he hasn’t voted Republican in 10 years and first voted for a Democrat in 2012. He said while “there’s no good answer right now,” he is focused on health care reform. 

“Really, how much money does it take? It just gave the president the green light to use foreign powers to help him win an election,” Zelinski said. “It’s all a circus that’s riding party lines. No one has made a move in the last two months because everyone’s waiting to see what goes on with this.”

Stephanie Toop of Flint said she tuned in and out of the news in the last month but found the impeachment trial too depressing to watch. 

“This should be a high priority for people, but I also understand why people put it on the back burner,” said Toop, 28. “My relatives started watching Fox News a few years ago, and it just seems like they’re getting angrier and angrier at the news. It’s really depressing.”

Fox News has conservative commentators who have defended Trump on their shows.

At the Java Hutt coffee shop in Ferndale, the impeachment vote drew a mixed reaction.

Todd Robertson of Bloomfield Township said the vote never should have been held. He said it was just a partisan hatchet job by the Democratic Party.

Impeachment should be reserved for criminal acts, and in Robertson’s view, the president hadn’t done anything wrong.

“What is that all about?” he asked. “It’s just a bunch of Dems who didn’t like the results of the (presidential) election.”

Robertson, 54, said Trump has done a good job in office, slowing immigrants and improving the economy.

“It’s (the country) doing a lot better than it was,” he said.

Other customers of the Java Hutt agreed with Robertson, up to a certain point. They said impeachment shouldn’t have been broached because Democrats never had enough support to pass the two articles in the Senate.

As for as whether Trump should have been impeached, however, other customers disagreed with Robertson. They argued the president was guilty of impeachable offenses.

Mark Schlotter of Ferndale said it would have been better if Congress had voted to censure Trump.

“It’s good they let him know he can’t do what he wants,” he said about Congress raising the impeachment issue.

Schlotter, 71, said he had little use for Trump, his policies or personal behavior.

“He’s vulgar. He puts down anybody he doesn’t like,” he said.

Michael Farina of Hazel Park said he was heartbroken that the Senate didn’t vote against the president.

He said Trump broke the law and the fact that Republican senators felt his actions were OK showed that the country is being run by an emperor.

“We have a king, not a president,” he said. “The thing we tried to fix in 1776 has still not been fixed.”

Farina, 67, said the Senate action portended the demise of democracy and he is surprised people aren’t more alarmed about it.

“The president is destroying the institutions we need to right the boat of democracy,” he said.

As for the Republican senators’ support of Trump, it shows the party is ruled by expediency, not by higher values, he said.

Back at the Detroit bar, Jim Dorner, a Canadian from Windsor, said as an outsider it’s been entertaining to watch.

“I thought it was all a farce,” said Dorner, 60. “Lady justice is supposed to have a blindfold on right? Well, how is it every Democrat votes guilty and every Republican votes not guilty? Someone should have said: Where’s the stink?”

Dorner sat with friends at the bar and said “everyone knew" that the Senate would vote to find Trump not guilty, especially after the president didn’t shake House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s hand Tuesday night before the State of the Union address and she ripped up a copy of his speech afterward. 

“He was saying America was doing good and not one Democrat stood up and labeled themselves right there,” Dorner said. “I think Democrats are going to pay in the election especially with the increased hatred in the U.S. In Canada, we all know we’re good people and we’re allowed to have a difference in opinions. It’s much more about labels here.”

srahal@detroitnews.com

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