Politics

Trump impeachment trial: Closing arguments tee up final vote after Senate rejects new witnesses

Key Points
  • House managers and defense lawyers are set to deliver their closing arguments in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial.
  • Both sides will share four hours to make their final points. A formal vote on whether to convict or acquit Trump is set for the day after the president gives his State of the Union address.
  • Senate Republicans on Friday night voted against a proposal to allow additional witnesses and documents into the trial.
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Trump impeachment trial reaches final stage

House managers and defense lawyers are set to deliver their closing arguments in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, after Democrats' failure to secure new witness testimony and documents all but guaranteed an acquittal.

The seven House impeachment managers, led by Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., will take to the floor of the Senate at 11 a.m. ET to make their final pitch that Trump deserves to be removed from office for allegedly abusing his power and obstructing Congress through dealings with Ukraine.

The House managers and Trump's legal team will share four hours to make their final points. A formal vote on whether to convict or acquit Trump is set for 4 p.m. on Wednesday — the day after Trump delivers his State of the Union address.

"It was a very serious thing," Trump told Fox News opinion host Sean Hannity in an interview that aired Sunday before the Super Bowl. "It should have never happened to another president."

From the start of the impeachment proceedings in the Senate, it was considered unlikely that two-thirds of the GOP-majority chamber would vote to convict a Republican president. After Friday's vote against allowing new witnesses and documents into the trial, acquittal is virtually certain.

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Senate votes 51-49 against witnesses in impeachment trial

Democrats argued that testimony from additional witnesses — especially former national security advisor John Bolton — was necessary because the White House had refused to hand documents over to House investigators and had pressured potential witnesses not to testify.

But a razor-thin majority of Senate Republicans on Friday night voted against a proposal to allow that additional information. Two Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Utah's Mitt Romney, broke with their party and voted alongside the Democrats

The 51-49 vote came amid reports of leaked details from Bolton's upcoming memoir that described Trump telling the then-national security advisor directly that nearly $400 million in congressionally appropriated military aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into his political rivals.

Trump's pressure on Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to announce investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, as well as a debunked conspiracy alleging Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election, are at the heart of the two articles of impeachment that passed the House in December. The president has denied wrongdoing.

Democrats saw Bolton's reported claim of firsthand knowledge about Trump's intentions as a missing link in their argument. Bolton even promised to testify in the trial if he was subpoenaed by the Senate — though he has otherwise declined to comment on the case, prompting accusations of opportunism ahead of the release of his tell-all book.

But some Republicans, including at least one key swing vote, have not denied that Trump's actions were wrong.

"It was inappropriate for the president to ask a foreign leader to investigate his political opponent and to withhold United States aid to encourage that investigation," said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., but it "does not meet the United States Constitution's high bar for an impeachable offense."

Alexander voted against bringing new evidence into the trial, as did Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who was also on the fence, slamming the "rushed and flawed" articles sent over by the House.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., excoriated the Senate after the vote Friday night.

It's "a perfidy, it's a grand tragedy," Schumer said, adding that the vote is "one of the worst tragedies that the Senate has ever overcome."