Democratic effort to call new witnesses likely to fall short

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on January 31, 2020 - Duration: 02:35s

Democratic effort to call new witnesses likely to fall short

President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial faces a climactic vote on Friday, when senators are due to decide whether to call witnesses and prolong the historic proceeding or instead bring them to the swift conclusion that Trump wants.

Jonah Green reports.


Democratic effort to call new witnesses likely to fall short

(SOUND BITE) (English) DEMOCRATIC HOUSE IMPEACHMENT MANAGER ADAM SCHIFF, SAYING: "Can't we take one week to hear from these witnesses?

I think we can.

I think we should.

I think we must." On the second and final day of the question-and-answer phase of President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, Democrats made a last-gasp attempt to persuade Republican senators to vote to allow witnesses.

But that effort looks likely to fail.

One of the key undecided Republican Senators announced late Thursday he was against calling new witnesses.

In a statement, retiring Senator Lamar Alexander called Trump's actions inappropriate, but declared further evidence was unnecessary.

"There is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven and that does not meet the United States constitution's high bar for an impeachable offense." Republican Senator Susan Collins did break with her party and announced her support for witnesses.

But Democrats need at least three more Republicans to give them the 51 votes needed to call witnesses.

Late on Thursday, Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski said she was still undecided.

(SOUND BITE) (English) U.S. SENATOR LISA MURKOWSKI, SAYING: "I send a question to the desk." ...based on her question to the president's lawyers, Murkowski indicated she was weighing calling witnesses.

(SOUND BITE) (English) U.S. CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS, SAYING: "This dispute about material facts weighs in favor of calling additional witnesses with direct knowledge.

Why should this body not call Ambassador Bolton?" Possible testimony from John Bolton, Trump's former national security adviser, is of particular interest... after a report said he wrote in an upcoming book that Trump told him he wanted to freeze military aid for Ukraine until it investigated his political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter - an allegation that strikes at the heart of the impeachment case against Trump.

A 50-50 tie on the question of witness testimony and additional evidence could result if Murkowski and Senator Mitt Romney join Collins in backing the additional evidence.

Such a deadlock would mean that the drive for witnesses would fail, unless U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the Senate trial, voted to break the tie.

Still, the Republican-lead Senate is expected to acquit the president no matter what happens, as a two-thirds majority is required to remove him from office.

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