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."

Watch:

What you need to know:

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Trump signs 4 executive orders on coronavirus aid

President Trump speaking during a press conference on Aug. 8. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump on Saturday signed four executive orders to provide relief from economic damage sustained during the coronavirus pandemic after talks between the White House and Democratic leadership collapsed Friday afternoon.

Why it matters: Because the Constitution gives Congress the power to appropriate federal spending, Trump has limited authority to act unilaterally — and risks a legal challenge if congressional Democrats believe he has overstepped.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 19,451,097 — Total deaths: 722,835 — Total recoveries — 11,788,665Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2. p.m. ET: 4,968,413 — Total deaths: 161,858 — Total recoveries: 1,623,870 — Total tests: 60,415,558Map.
  3. Public health: Fauci says chances are "not great" that COVID-19 vaccine will be 98% effective.
  4. Science: Indoor air is the next coronavirus frontline.
  5. Schools: How back-to-school is playing out in the South as coronavirus rages on — Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Howard to hold fall classes online.
4 hours ago - World

What's next for Lebanon after the Beirut explosion

Photo: Houssam Shbaro/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Beirut residents are still clearing rubble from streets that appear war-torn, days after a blast that shocked the country and horrified the world.

Why it matters: The explosion is likely to accelerate a painful cycle Lebanon was already living through — discontent, economic distress, and emigration.