Senate Blocks Motion To Call Witnesses In Trump Impeachment Trial By Vote Of 51-49
In a party-line vote of 51-49, GOP lawmakers dismissed a motion to call witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial on Friday night.
Democrats saw their hopes for additional witnesses and evidence diminish Thursday, when swing vote Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) announced he would vote against the motion. The next day, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) joined Alexander on the GOP side.
Alexander argued that the facts are true, and that the American people should decide whether Trump should remain in office or not. Murkowski voted against the motion, because she did not “believe the continuation of this process will change anything.”
As Democrats hold 47 seats in the Senate, they needed at least four Republican senators to side with them. Only Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) supported calling additional witnesses, effectively speeding up the trial process.
Several aides told the Wall Street Journal they expect the final vote to be on Wednesday — the day after Trump’s State of the Union address, and two days after the Iowa caucuses. However, any new timing agreement would require a new, majority-approved Senate resolution.
The leading House impeachment manager, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California), said Friday that excluding witness testimony creates a dangerous precedent.
“This will set a new precedent, this will be cited in impeachment trials from this point until the end of history,” Schiff said Friday. “If the Senate allows President Trump’s obstruction to stand, it effectively nullifies the impeachment power. It will allow future presidents to decide whether they want their misconduct to be investigated or not.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) believed Democrats fought as hard as they could to require witness testimony.
“We knew this was an uphill fight,” Schumer said during a Friday news conference. “We’re not in the majority, we have a president who strikes fear in the hearts of Republicans.”