Trump impeachment trial: Senate votes against adding more witnesses, sets vote on impeachment articles

U.S. President Donald Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump exits after speaking at a White House Mental Health Summit in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House on December 19, 2019 in Washington, D.C. |

Senate Republicans Friday voted to reject a resolution that would have allowed more witnesses and documents in the impeachment trial and prolonged it, and passed instead a resolution to make President Trump’s acquittal possible next week.

Fifty one Senate Republicans rejected the resolution to call witnesses, possibly including former Trump national security adviser John Bolton and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, according to Reuters. And 49 Senators, all Democrats except Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah, voted unsuccessfully to approve subpoena of documents and witnesses in the trial.

The resolution would have prolonged the trial by several months.

All 53 Republicans then voted to approve Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s resolution on the timeline of the trial while the 47 Democrats opposed it.

“A majority of the U.S. Senate has determined that the numerous witnesses and 28,000-plus pages of documents already in evidence are sufficient to judge the House Managers’ accusations and end this impeachment trial," McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement.

Instead of Saturday, the Senate will now reconvene on Monday when Trump's legal team and House managers will have two hours each to make their final statements. Then on Wednesday, the Senate will meet at 4 p.m. to vote on the two articles of impeachment that accuse the president of “Abuse of Power” and “Obstruction of Congress.”

On Tuesday, senators are expected to make their stands public on the Senate floor.

Republicans Friday night rejected many other amendments sought by Democrats.

According to leaked details from Bolton’s forthcoming book told to The New York Times, Trump allegedly asked him to withhold military aid from Ukraine until it launched investigations into Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden and his actions as head of the U.S.'s Ukraine policy. 

During the Obama administration, Biden threatened to withhold $1 billion in aid to Ukraine unless a prosecutor investigating the Burisma energy company was fired. At the time, Burisma was paying his son, Hunter Biden, $1 million a year to sit on its board.

The twin brother of Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, one of the House Democrats' witnesses in the impeachment inquiry, is suspected of being the person who leaked details of Bolton's manuscript to The New York Times.

Vindman's brother, Army Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, a senior ethics lawyer for the National Security Council, is in charge of the review process for manuscripts written by former NSC officials, such as Bolton's book that was submitted to the NSC on Dec. 30.

During his House testimony, Alexander Vindman testified that he told his brother, Yevgeny, about the president's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump is accused by his opponents of pressuring Zelensky to investigate Biden. The two brothers discussed the call and Yevgeny told Alexander that he knew the transcript was moved to a top-secret server.

Trump later took to Twitter to denounce the Bolton manuscript claims, arguing that “The Democrat controlled House never even asked John Bolton to testify. It is up to them, not up to the Senate!”

The Associated Press then released a fact check of the statement, labeling it “false in its entirety” noting that the House had tried to get Bolton to testify but he declined.

“House Democrats decided not to pursue a subpoena compelling Bolton to testify in the House proceedings because he threatened to sue, which could have meant an extended court fight,” noted the AP fact check.

However, Trump’s acquittal looks imminent.

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