Updated Jan 31, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Senate votes not to call witnesses in Trump's impeachment trial

Trump at the White House on Jan. 31. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

The Senate voted largely along party lines on Friday to move forward with President Trump's impeachment trial without calling for additional witnesses.

The bottom line: The 49-51 vote was largely expected, after two out of four key Republicans backed away from allowing more witnesses in the trial — Sens. Lamar Alexander and Lisa Murkowski.

What's next: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are caucusing with their parties to discuss a plan to reconvene the impeachment trial on Monday at 11 a.m. ET, with a final vote expected for Wednesday at 4 p.m., Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and other GOP senators and aides tell Axios' Alayna Treene, Stef Kight and Margaret Talev.

  • Schumer lamented the decision to block witnesses as "one of the worst tragedies that the Senate has ever overcome," while McConnell chastised Democrats for trying to "re-open" the impeachment investigation already conducted by the House.
The state of play:

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) voted to call witnesses, as she announced she would Thursday.

  • What she's saying: "I believe hearing from certain witnesses would give each side the opportunity to more fully and fairly make their case, resolve any ambiguities, and provide additional clarity."

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) sided with Democrats and voted to call witnesses.

  • What he's saying, per the NYT: “I think of this as an inflection point, politically in our country,” he said. “It’s a constitutional issue. I feel a sense of deep responsibility to abide by the Constitution, to determine — absent the pulls from the right and the pulls from the left — what is the right thing to do?”

Murkowski (R-Alaska) voted against additional witnesses, saying earlier Friday she doesn't "believe the continuation of the process will change anything."

  • What she's saying: "Given the partisan nature of this impeachment from the very beginning and throughout, I have come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate. ... It is sad for me to admit, as an institution, Congress has failed."

Alexander (R-Tenn.) voted against calling for additional witnesses, as he announced he would Thursday night.

  • What he's saying: "I worked with other senators to make sure that we have the right to ask for more documents and witnesses, but there is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven and that does not meet the U.S. Constitution’s high bar for an impeachable offense."

What Trump is saying: “The president is gratified that finally at long last after multiple delays the Senate will set a schedule for his acquittal as quickly as possible. I do not believe that that schedule interferes with his ability to deliver a strong and confident State of the Union message next week in the House of Representatives," White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland told Axios' Alayna Treene.

Go deeper ... ⚖️ Live updates: Trump on track for acquittal

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Lisa Murkowski won't vote for witnesses in Trump impeachment trial

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) announced Friday that she will vote against having additional witnesses testify during President Trump's impeachment trial, saying she doesn't "believe the continuation of the process will change anything."

Where it stands: Murkowski's vote likely closes the door on any additional witnesses during the trial. If four Republicans don't side with the Democrats on witnesses, the proceedings could end as soon as tonight.

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 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.

Key senator commits to sinking witness vote

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) speaks with reporters as he leaves the Capitol. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The Senate is on track to swiftly acquit President Trump after Sen. Lamar Alexander announced Thursday night that he will vote against calling for additional witnesses.

Why it matters: Alexander's vote is crucial to whether the impeachment trial extends beyond this weekend, and his decision to stick with his party all but guarantees that Friday's witness vote will fail.