Trump impeachment trial live coverage: Senators ask final questions before critical vote on witnesses
The second and final day of questions comes before a critical vote, expected Friday, on whether to call witnesses.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House voted to send impeachment articles against President Donald Trump to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell officially received the House managers on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020.Chelsea Stahl / NBC News
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Senators on Thursday concluded their final day of questions for House prosecutors and President Donald Trump’s defense team in the president’s impeachment trial before a critical vote, expected Friday, on whether to call witnesses.
The Senate remains divided on the witness issue, with Democrats calling for testimony from ex-national security adviser John Bolton and other top administration officials. Republican leaders are seeking to block additional testimony and documents in a bid for a quick acquittal of Trump.
Senators asked 180 questions Wednesday and Thursday on everything from executive power to the ability to call witnesses — an issue that has lawmakers sharply divided.
What if there's a tie vote? Everything you need to know about witnesses and Trump's trial
Ahead of the vote on Friday afternoon on whether to call witnesses at President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, GOP Senate leaders believe they will have just enough votes to block additional testimony and documents.
In order for witness testimony to be approved, four Republicans in the Senate would need to vote alongside all Democrats.
So far, only Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, has indicated he will vote in favor of witnesses, and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, has said it is likely she will, too. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has hinted at an interest in hearing from witnesses but has not provided a strong indication of how she will vote.
FIRST READ: Senate Republicans appear ready to fall in line on impeachment vote despite earlier concerns
It’s so revealing how Republicans’ attitudes about the Ukraine scandal have evolved in just four months.
We’ve gone from Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., saying evidence of a quid pro quo would be “very disturbing,” to GOP senators not willing to hear from John Bolton, who claims in a new book that President Trump told him he was linking Ukraine’s security aid to investigating the Bidens.
We’ve also moved from some GOP senators being opposed to a president asking a foreign leader to dig up dirt on a political rival — “Look, it is not appropriate for any candidate for federal office, certainly, including a sitting president, to ask for assistance from a foreign country,” Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said in September — to Trump lawyer Alan Dershowitz now suggesting that a president could do almost anything to win re-election.
That evolution tells you where we’re likely headed.
Eight more hours to go. Notable moments so far include deputy counsel Patrick Philbin infuriating Democrats with his argument on campaign finance laws and foreign interference; Philbin saying no one from White House counsel’s office knew about the Bolton manuscript before The New York Times reached out for comment on Sunday; Jay Sekulow’s more sharply partisan tone and his call for witnesses, including the Bidens, Schiff and the whistleblower; the Dershowitz argument on quid-pro-quo.
The mood in and around West Wing appears more positive than 36 hours ago. Officials still feel cautiously optimistic about deflecting calls for witnesses. Caveat: Any news bombshell between now and Friday night could change the game.
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18d ago / 3:14 PM UTC
Just catching up? Here's what you missed.
Senators start their second day of questions and answers after asking more than 90 questions of House managers and Trump's defense team on Wednesday.