Senate rejects witnesses in Trump impeachment trial

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on February 1, 2020 - Duration: 02:38s

Senate rejects witnesses in Trump impeachment trial

By a vote of 51-49, the Republican-controlled Senate stopped Democrats' drive to hear testimony from witnesses and collect new evidence in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

Chris Dignam has more.

Senate rejects witnesses in Trump impeachment trial

(SOUND BITE) (English) U.S. SENATOR LISA MURKOWSKI, SAYING: "No." The United States Senate on Friday voted against hearing new witnesses and seeing new evidence in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, clearing the way for the president's almost certain acquittal next week.

(SOUND BITE) (English) UNITED STATES CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS, SAYING: "Are there any senators in the chamber wishing to change his or her vote?

If not, the yeas are 49.

The nays are 51.

The motion is not agreed to." The Democratic push for calling witnesses fell short after only two Republicans - Mitt Romney and Susan Collins - voted with Democrats, while Senators Lamar Alexander and Lisa Murkowski - seen as possible swing votes earlier in the week - said they had heard enough.

The Senate's top Democrat Chuck Schumer called the vote a tragedy.

(SOUND BITE) (English) SENATE MINORITY LEADER CHUCK SCHUMER, SAYING: "It's a grand tragedy, one of the worst tragedies that the Senate has ever overcome.

America will remember this day, unfortunately, where the Senate did not live up to its responsibilities, where the Senate turned away from truth and went along with a sham trial." Testimony from John Bolton, Trump's former national security adviser, was of particular interest.

Just hours before the vote, the New York Times reported new details from an unpublished book manuscript written by Bolton in which the former aide said Trump directed him to help in a pressure campaign to get Ukraine to investigate his political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter - an allegation that strikes at the heart of the impeachment case against Trump.

After the crucial vote, Democrats tried to force four last-ditch effort amendments that would allow the Senate to subpoena witnesses.

All four failed.

The Senate is almost certain to acquit Trump of the impeachment charges: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Many Republican senators said they did not think that Trump did anything wrong, while Senators Alexander and Rob Portman said his actions were wrong but did not amount to impeachable conduct.

In a lengthy statement, Senator Marco Rubio said impeachment would be too divisive for the country, even if the president engaged in clearly impeachable activity.

The Senate trial is set to resume on Monday, when House managers and Trump’s defense team will make their closing arguments.

Then, the Senate will convene for a final up or down vote on the articles of impeachment on Wednesday, one day after Trump delivers his the State of the Union speech in the House, where Democrats impeached him.

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