Along largely party lines, the Senate on Friday voted 51-49 against hearing witness testimony in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. This will likely end the trial, as the Republican-majority can now vote whether or not to acquit.
GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska announced Friday she would not vote to hear witness testimony. As the final undecided senator, she sealed the deal: No witnesses — including former national security adviser John Bolton — will testify. Republican Sens. Mitt Romney and Susan Collins, respectively of Utah and Maine, expressed an interest in hearing witness testimony ahead of Friday’s vote but senate Democrats needed at least 4 Republicans to cross party lines in order to call them.
Republicans however appeared to agree with Trump’s attorneys, who literally advanced the unsettling argument that a president can conduct any manner of corrupt activities in order to secure reelection if they believe their reelection to be in the national interest.
Following the vote not to hear witnesses, the Senate will next vote on the trial’s next steps. Closing arguments are expected to begin on Monday, with a final vote to acquit coming on Wednesday.
In December, the House impeached Trump on charges that he abused the power of his office and obstructed Congress by pressuring Ukraine’s government to announce an investigation of Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. The House voted on two articles of impeachment, drafted by the House Judiciary Committee, which charged the president with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
For abuse of power, the House voted 230-197; for obstruction of Congress, the House voted 229-198. The votes concluded a months-long impeachment inquiry process into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, which sought to determine whether he solicited foreign power for his own political gain. And as the inquiry unfolded, the White House’s refusal to cooperate and attempts to block witnesses from testifying amounted to obstruction of Congress, according to the articles of impeachment.
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