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Trump impeachment trial: Senate passes impeachment trial endgame

The defeat of the vote on witnesses Friday moves the trial into the final phase, setting up an acquittal vote next week.

Senators on Friday laid out the ground rules of the final phase of President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, voting largely on party lines against calling witnesses and documents.

The final vote on Trump's fate is set for Wednesday and is almost certain to end in an acquittal.

Read about the highlights below:

Trump trial could last into next week

A key vote on whether to hear testimony from witnesses in the president's impeachment trial is expected to take place Friday, but the trial itself could stretch into next week regardless, multiple sources tell NBC News.  

While Republicans expect they'll be able to vote down Democrats' requests to continue the trial with witness testimony, several other moving parts could stretch the proceedings into next week, after the Iowa caucus on Monday and the president gives his State of the Union address on Tuesday, the sources said.

Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn of Texas told reporters they did not believe the trial would end Friday after meeting with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

“I don’t expect there to be a vote for additional witnesses, but the question is how do you land this plane. I don’t expect this ends today,” Cornyn said. Cruz added, "I think we would see it by next week.” 

Both sides have a total of four hours to make their arguments on witnesses, beginning at 1 p.m. ET Friday, and that will be followed by deliberations and then a vote on the issue. But there are many unknowns about what could happen after the witness vote.

The organizing resolution for the trial allows both sides to make motions after that vote. Democrats were meeting to discuss what motions they want to introduce. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio told reporters that he plans to introduce a motion to make deliberations on the articles of impeachment open instead of closed.

Senators also need to decide whether there will be closing arguments after the witness vote, and if so, for how long. They also need to figure out how long deliberations be and when would they start. The closed deliberations in 1999 gave each senator 10 minutes to speak. 

Trump's legal team anticipates their closing arguments, if there are any, will be on the shorter side, and it is not currently pushing for a time extension, according to a source familiar with the thinking of the White House defense.  

Nadler says he will miss end of Trump trial due to wife's illness

Just catching up with the trial? Here's what you missed.

Friday marks a new phase of the impeachment trial, as senators turn from asking questions of the House managers and Trump's defense team to the vote on whether to call witnesses, such as ex-national security adviser John Bolton. 

Here's a brief recap of the trial so far:

'Nonsense,' 'preposterous,' 'absurd': Critics lecture Dershowitz about trial remarks

Alan Dershowitz faced intense backlash Thursday over his eye-opening argument against impeaching his client. Dershowitz, a member of Trump's defense team, argued Wednesday that if presidents engage in quid pro quo arrangements for their own political benefit, it is not impeachable because all politicians believe their elections are in the public interest.

"If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment," he said during the first day of the question-and-answer period of the Senate impeachment trial.

Read what people said about his argument.

Monica Lewinsky says it's 'too bad' she had to give testimony

OPINION: Trump's impeachment trial is being tuned out by America because no one thinks it matters

American soap operas are not popular these days. And yet, the Senate trial to remove President Donald Trump from office is currently garnering fewer viewers than the soaps. The conservative online magazine The Federalist consulted Nielsen ratings and used them to argue: “More people would rather watch the predictable, fake melodrama offered by soap operas than the predictable, fake melodrama currently being peddled by the Democrats.”

Just over 4 million people, in a country of 320 million-plus, tuned in for the opening arguments on the three big networks last week. That’s well less than the 11 million people who regularly watch the soaps on those channels. Fox News viewership was sent “skyrocketing” when Trump’s defense team got going on Saturday, The Washington Examiner reported, but the audience was still in the low millions.

In other words, Americans are collectively yawning at the Senate impeachment trial.

Read the full THINK piece.

Video appears to show Trump and indicted Giuliani associate at Florida club

A newly public video recording appears to show President Donald Trump with Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani, at the president's Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, further calling into question Trump's assertion that he doesn't know Parnas and his associate Igor Fruman.

In a 37-minute recording that NBC News obtained from Parnas' attorney, Parnas and Fruman are greeted warmly by Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, who appears to recognize Parnas.

"Yeah, we've met before, yeah, how are things?" McDaniel appears to say. "I'm glad you're here."

Read the story.

Nadler appears to rush ahead of Schiff to offer closing remarks on need for witnesses

Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., beat Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the lead impeachment manager, to the lectern Thursday, appearing to usurp Schiff's attempt to give a closing argument in the final moments of the question and answer phase of President Donald Trump's Senate trial.

The moment came after Chief Justice John Roberts read the last question from Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., which asked House managers to give senators any additional thoughts before the trial adjourned for the evening.

Read the story.

What if there's a tie vote? Everything you need to know about a tie in Trump's trial

Ahead of the vote expected 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.

"I think we can all agree this is a big day," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

For witness testimony to be approved, four Republican senators would need to vote alongside all Democrats. Republicans have a 53-seat majority in the 100-member Senate.

In another possible scenario, three GOP lawmakers vote for witnesses, making it a 50-50 tie — under which the resolution would be defeated. But Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the trial, could weigh in as a 101st vote, although that's not anticipated.

Read what could happen Friday afternoon.

Trump's Senate trial: Key takeaways from senators' questions as witness vote in doubt

The senator's questions of House managers and President Donald Trump's defense team Thursday offered both sides ample opportunity to clash ahead of a pivotal vote Friday on whether to call witnesses in Trump's impeachment trial.

They included queries about when the president ordered the hold on Ukraine aid, why he lifted the hold and who was paying for his personal lawyer's trips abroad. The chief justice refused to read one question, from Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who has sought to out the whistleblower whose complaint led to the impeachment charges against Trump.

Here are seven key takeaways from Thursday's question-and-answer session.