Feb 1, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump impeachment trial recap, day 10: Vote to call witnesses fails

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) gives the thumbs up as he leaves the Senate chamber.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) gives the thumbs up as he leaves the Senate chamber after adjourning for the night during the impeachment trial of U.S. President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 31, 2020 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Drew Angerer / Staff/Getty Images

The Senate voted Friday to move forward with Trump's impeachment trial without calling for additional witnesses or evidence, an expected result after two key Republicans decided to vote against it.

The state of play: The Senate voted to reconvene Monday at 11 a.m. ET with a final vote Wednesday at 4 p.m., after the Senate goes on recess for the weekend. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's last-ditch effort to get witnesses — forcing amendments to subpoena John Bolton, Mick Mulvaney and other officials — were shot down.

  • White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland does not believe that the schedule interferes with Trump delivering the State of the Union address next week, Axios' Alayna Treene reports.

The highlights:

  • Jay Sekulow, Trump's personal attorney, said that if the Senate votes to allow witnesses, he would be entitled to cross-examine key officials who already provided testimony to the House, including: Gordon Sondland, William Taylor, Marie Yovanovitch, Tim Morrison, Fiona Hill, Jennifer Williams, Kurt Volker, George Kent and Alexander Vindman.
  • Lead House manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) argued that Congress' ability to impeach presidents will be nullified if Trump is acquitted, after House manager Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) pleaded with Republicans to put aside party loyalty and "belief in your president" to subpoena documents and witnesses.
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) announced that she would vote against having additional witnesses testify, saying she doesn't "believe the continuation of the process will change anything."
  • Her decision came after Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) announced Thursday that he'd also oppose calling witnesses.

The mood in the Senate: Neither side used the full two hours allotted before the vote on whether to call additional witnesses or bring in more documents. Democrats looked defeated, and several Republicans were not in the room at the start of the trial.

  • Senators were just as confused, if not more so, than reporters at the start of Friday about how the rest of the trial plays out. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) told Axios that most Republicans were on board with the plan to reconvene on Monday.
  • Just before 1 p.m., a roar of applause was heard outside of the GOP lunch. Several senators were asked what the cheers were for as they exited, to which most chuckled or offered "an inside joke" — in stark contrast to House Democrat's "sad day" approach to Friday's vote on allowing witnesses.
  • Walking into lunch on Friday, several Republican senators were still hoping to wrap up the final vote before the end of the weekend. They then murmured that they had no idea what would happen when they left.
  • A few other proposals emerged since Axios reported on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's proposal to push the final impeachment vote to Wednesday.
  • McConnell and Schumer briefly huddled in a circle during the Senate's quorum call to discuss the plan to reconvene the Senate on Monday.

Another Bolton bombshell: The New York Times reported Friday afternoon that former national security adviser John Bolton claims in a manuscript of his forthcoming book that Trump asked him in early May to ensure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would meet with Rudy Giuliani.

  • Trump denied Bolton's claim in an on-the-record statement to the Times.

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