Jan 31, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump impeachment trial recap, day 9: Alexander sets up speedy acquittal

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Senators ended their two-day question-and-answer period on Thursday, the ninth day of President Trump's Senate impeachment trial.

The state of play: The biggest news happened off the Senate floor, as Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) announced after the session that he'd oppose calling additional witnesses. With that key swing vote off the table for Democrats, it sets up the president for a speedy acquittal — perhaps as early as late Friday night.

How it worked: Senators were allowed to submit prewritten questions to Chief Justice John Roberts, who directed them to the House impeachment managers or Trump's legal team for a five-minute response.

The highlights:

  • Roberts declined to read a question from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who attempted to include the alleged name of the Ukraine whistleblower in his questions on Wednesday.
  • Lead House manager Rep. Adam Schiff called Dershowitz's defense of the president "a descent into constitutional madness," adding, "They compounded the dangerous argument that they made that no quid pro quo is too corrupt if you think it'll help your re-election. They compounded it by saying if what you want is targeting your rival, it's even more legitimate. That way, madness lies."
  • Schiff also argued that a witness-and-documents portion of the trial could be done in one week — countering concerns that allowing either would extend the trial significantly.
  • A question from senators, including Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Lamar Alexander — both considered possible swing votes on witnesses — drew attention to the issue's potential outcome. It stated: "Assuming for argument's sake [former national security adviser John] Bolton were to testify, isn't it true, that the allegations still would not rise to the level of an impeachable offense and that therefore for this and other reasons his testimony would add nothing to this case?" Deputy White House counsel Pat Philbin responded: "Even if he gave that testimony, the articles of impeachment still wouldn't rise to an impeachable offense."

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