EVENT ENDED

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.

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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:

Live Blog

Schumer calls vote against witnesses 'a grand tragedy'

Schumer called the Senate's 51-49 vote against calling witnesses "a grand tragedy."

"No witnesses, no documents in an impeachment trial is a perfidy. It is a grand tragedy. One of the worst tragedies that the Senate has overcome. America will remember this day, unfortunately, where the Senate did not live up to its responsibilities," Schumer said.

"The Senate turned away from truth and went along with a sham trial," he added. "It's a tragedy on a very large scale."

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn, told MSNBC it "was a terrible, terrible vote for the country."

Senate vote on calling witnesses fails, ushering in trial endgame

The Senate voted not to call witnesses in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial Friday afternoon, ushering in the final phase of the proceedings, with an all-but-assured vote to acquit Trump possibly coming as late as Wednesday.

The vote was 49 to 51.

Democrats sought testimony from ex-national security adviser John Bolton on Trump's alleged conditioning of Ukraine aid on investigations into Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden. But they failed to get a majority to back their efforts after Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, two key Republican swing votes, announced that they would not back the move.

Read the story.

Sanders reacts to witness vote: 'A sad day in American history'

Senate vote on calling witnesses fails, ushering in trial endgame

The Senate voted not to call witnesses in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial Friday afternoon, ushering in the final phase of the proceedings, with a vote to acquit or convict Trump possibly coming as late as Wednesday.

Democrats sought testimony from ex-national security adviser John Bolton on Trump’s alleged conditioning of Ukraine aid on investigations into Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden. But they failed to get a majority to back their efforts after Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, two key Republican swing votes, announced that they would not back the move.

Witness vote NOW

Senators are now voting on whether to hear witnesses.

Parnas names top Trump officials in letter to McConnell on potential testimony

The attorney for indicted Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas sent a letter Friday to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., with a laundry list of alleged evidence he would testify to if allowed to appear as a witness in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.

The letter, sent by Parnas’s attorney Joseph Bondy and obtained by NBC News, represents a last-ditch attempt by Parnas to make known the value of the information he feels he could provide as he continues to push to be a witness. It comes as the Senate appears all but certain to vote Friday to reject hearing witnesses before voting to acquit the president, likely next week.

Read the full story.

Schiff argues Senate will undercut its own authority if it doesn't call witnesses

Schiff told senators they'd be kneecapping their own authority for generations if they allow President Donald Trump to get away with his congressional stonewalling, paving the way for presidents to ignore congressional oversight. 

Schiff told the Senate that voting no on subpoenaing witnesses and documents "will have long-lasting and harmful consequences long after this impeachment trial is over. We agree with the president's counsel on this much, this will set a new precedent" — and "a very dangerous and long-lasting precedent that we will all have to live with."

"President Trump's wholesale obstruction of Congress strikes at the heart of our Constitution and democratic system of separation of powers," he said. "Make no mistake, the president's actions in this impeachment inquiry constitute an attack on congressional oversight, on the coequal nature of this branch of government. Not just on the House but on the Senate's ability as well to conduct its oversight to serve as a check and balance on this president and every president that follows."

He added, "It will allow future presidents to decide whether they want their misconduct to be investigated or not. Whether they would like to participate in an impeachment investigation or not." 

He also warned the truth about what happened will emerge eventually. 

"It’s important to remember that no matter what you decide to do here, whether you decide to hear witnesses and relevant testimony, the facts will come out in the end. Even over the course of this trial, we have seen so many additional facts come to light. The facts will come out. In all of their horror, they will come out," he said.

Former chief of staff John Kelly says not allowing witnesses amounts to 'half a trial'

Former White House chief of staff John Kelly said in an interview Friday with NJ Advance Media that the Senate’s expected vote to end the impeachment trial without hearing from additional witnesses amounted to “half a trial.” 

“In my view, they kind of leave themselves open to a lot of criticism,” Kelly said. “It seems it was half a trial.” 

Kelly, who served as President Donald Trump’s chief of staff from mid-2017 through 2018, said he believed former national security adviser John Bolton’s allegations in an unpublished book that Trump told him he was holding up aid to Ukraine to pressure their government to investigate Trump’s political rivals. 

Kelly called Bolton “a copious notetaker” and “an honest guy and an honorable guy.” 

Bolton’s claims were first revealed in a New York Times report that cites the manuscript of Bolton's upcoming book. NBC News has not reviewed the manuscript. 

“If I was advising the United States Senate, I would say, 'If you don’t respond to 75 percent of the American voters and have witnesses, it’s a job only half done,'” Kelly said. He added, “You open yourself up forever as a Senate that shirks its responsibilities." 

Quinnipiac poll this week showed that 75 percent of voters supported allowing witnesses in the trial. 

ANALYSIS: Why give anything to the Senate?

The Senate seeks a lot of information from the executive branch. Lawmakers routinely write letters asking for documents and requesting that administration witnesses appear to give testimony on a wide range of topics. 

While there are a number of levers the Senate can use to put pressure on a recalcitrant administration to force the production of witnesses and documents, issuing subpoenas — and the threat that non-compliance could lead to prosecution — always has been one of its biggest hammers.

But Senate Republicans have heavily criticized House Democrats for having done, as Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., put it, “little to pursue” witnesses who were subpoenaed. In doing so, Rubio and other Republican senators have essentially advised Trump and future presidents of both parties to ignore Senate subpoenas — or at least fight them in court — because they’re not really serious attempts to get information. The Senate has no power to impeach a president who flouts subpoenas or seeks to tie them up in courts for obstructing Congress.