Senate Votes Down Witnesses, Sets Vote on Impeachment Articles For Feb. 5

January 31, 2020 Updated: January 31, 2020
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Senate Republicans rejected a resolution to call witnesses late Friday and approved a resolution that calls for a vote on the two articles of impeachment to be held on Wednesday in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

Senators voted along party lines 53-47 approving Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) resolution, which sets up the timeline for the rest of the trial proceedings.

It calls for closing statements to be heard starting Monday 11 a.m., which will “not exceed four hours and [will] be equally divided between the House and the President to be used as under the Rules of Impeachment.”

Once the closing arguments from both sides have been delivered, the trial will be adjourned until Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET, when senators will move to vote on the articles of impeachment—abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

In the interim period, senators can speak on the Senate floor and explain their votes, reported The Hill.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s resolution laying out procedures on articles of impeachment in the trial of President Donald Trump.

Earlier, Senate Republicans rejected a resolution to call witnesses, which may have included former Trump national security adviser John Bolton.

The Senate voted 51–49 to not subpoena any documents or witnesses in the trial. Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) joined Democrats in the losing bid.

Potential swing-votes Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) voted against the measure. No Democrats joined the Republican majority.

McConnell said that there is “no need for the Senate to re-open the investigation which the House Democratic majority chose to conclude and which the Managers themselves continue to describe as ‘overwhelming’ and ‘beyond any doubt.'”

“Never in Senate history has this body paused an impeachment trial to pursue additional witnesses with unresolved questions of executive privilege that would require protracted litigation,” McConnell said in a statement. “We have no interest in establishing such a new precedent, particularly for individuals whom the House expressly chose not to pursue.”

Epoch Times Photo
Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) speaks to media after the vote to deny witnesses in the ongoing impeachment trial of President Donald Trump at the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 31, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Following the vote against calling witnesses, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters that “it’s a grand tragedy” and “one of the worst tragedies” in the Senate’s history. “The Senate turned away from truth and … held a sham trial,” he said.

The Senate impeachment trial “was not a real trial,” Schumer said.

Schumer and other Democrats have said that witnesses and documents need to be subpoenaed for the impeachment trial to be legitimate. They attempted to apply more pressure on four potential swing-vote senators this week when The New York Times published details about Bolton’s forthcoming book, where he allegedly claims Trump told him about a link between military aid and investigations in Ukraine. The president has denied the allegations.

Democratic presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) pilloried the vote: “The Senate refused to subpoena witnesses in this impeachment trial. I’ve never heard of a trial where you don’t have witnesses. This is a sad day in American history.”

Trump was formally charged on Dec. 18 by the Democrat-majority House on two articles of impeachment (pdf)—abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. No House Republicans voted in favor of the articles, and a small number of Democrats broke with their party to vote against one or both articles. Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard voted present in protest of the House-led effort, which she called a “partisan endeavor.”

Trump has repeatedly said he didn’t do anything wrong. He earlier agreed with Gabbard that House Democrats were playing politics.

A two-thirds supermajority (67 votes) is required to convict an impeached president and remove them from office.

About 20 Republicans would have to break with their party and join the Democratic minority to achieve a supermajority. Meanwhile, a simple majority (51 votes) is required to dismiss the impeachment charges against Trump.

No president has ever been removed as a direct result of impeachment. Richard Nixon resigned before he could be removed. Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were both impeached by the House but not convicted in the Senate.

Mimi Nguyen Ly contributed to this report.