Republican senators voted no on a motion to allow witnesses in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, denying the opportunity for John Bolton and any other key witnesses to provide new testimony and moving one step closer to a swift acquittal for the president.
- Going into Friday, the Democrats were preparing for a loss, needing four Republicans to vote against party lines, in favor of additional witnesses and evidence in the trial.
- Several Republican senators, however, despite acknowledging that Trump’s actions toward Ukraine were “inappropriate” and “wrong,” have said they will still vote against new witnesses and for the president’s acquittal.
- Two Republican senators, Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), had indicated on Thursday night that they were in favor of bringing in new witnesses—joining all 47 Democrats in support of the proposal.
- Another potential swing vote, Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, decided on Thursday that he would oppose allowing witnesses in the impeachment trial, dealing a potentially fatal blow to Democrats’ efforts.
- He was followed on Friday afternoon by Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski, which essentially cleared the way for a speedy acquittal of President Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
- , who had originally indicated that she was on the fence regarding the vote for new witnesses, said on Friday that she would vote no because the articles of impeachment presented by the House of Representatives were “rushed and flawed.”
Crucial quotes: Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, speaking right after the vote, called the outcome of the impeachment trial “a tragedy on a very large scale.”
“Just because actions meet a standard of impeachment does not mean it is in the best interest of the country to remove a President from office,” Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in a statement on Friday.
“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,” Alexander said when explaining his decision to vote no on Thursday.
“I don’t believe the continuation of this process will change anything,” Murkowski similarly said on Friday. “It is sad for me to admit that, as an institution, the Congress has failed.”
What to watch for: President Trump could now be acquitted in the early morning hours of Saturday or the vote may be delayed until next week. According to new reports, McConnell and Schumer have worked out a schedule that would lead to a final vote on acquittal next Wednesday, February 5, which is the day after the State of the Union address.
Key background: Democrats have been pushing for testimony from additional witnesses such as John Bolton. But some Republicans indicated this week they may break from their party after the New York Times reported that Bolton’s unpublished book draft contains an explosive firsthand account about the allegations at the center of impeachment case.