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Senate blocks witnesses in Trump impeachment | Acquittal vote set for Wednesday

Impeachment Trial: Three Things To Watch For 1-31-20

Closing arguments Monday, Tuesday, with SOTU scheduled Tuesday night

Senators voted to reject further witness testimony late Friday afternoon in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump by a vote of 51 to 49. Two Republicans — Susan Collins of Maine and Utah’s Mitt Romney — crossed the aisle to vote with the Democratic caucus.

The vote sets up an all-but-certain acquittal of the president on Democrat charges of high crimes and misdemeanors.

After the vote, the Senate then went into recess, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer reportedly agreeing that closing arguments will be held Monday and Tuesday and an all-but-certain vote to acquit Trump on Wednesday. If that deal holds Friday night and over the weekend, the nation’s third impeachment trial in history will end next week.

Watch day 11 of the trial here.

Under that arrangement, Trump will deliver the annual state of the union while his impeachment trial is still underway in the Senate.

After Friday’s historic vote, McConnell said, “Senators will now confer among ourselves, with the House managers, and with the President’s counsel to determine next steps as we prepare to conclude the trial in the coming days.

"A majority of the U.S. Senate has determined that the numerous witnesses and 28,000-plus pages of documents already in evidence are sufficient to judge the House managers' accusations and end this impeachment trial."

— Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

McConnell and his GOP caucus met immediately after the vote, as did Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Democrats, to determine how to proceed next.

Despite the Democrats singular focus on hearing new testimony, the Republican majority brushed past those demands to make this the first Senate impeachment trial without witnesses. Even new revelations Friday from former national security adviser John Bolton did not sway GOP senators, who said they’d heard enough.

»MORE: Huge vote coming Friday in Trump impeachment trial

Several GOP senators are reportedly undecided on whether to allow witness testimony in President Trump's impeachment trial. They are: Mitt Romney, Utah Susan Collins, Maine Lisa Murkowski, Alaska Pat Toomey, Pennsylvania Rob Portman, Ohio Jerry Moran, Kansas Cory Gardner, Colorado Lamar Alexander, Tennessee Prosecutors and defenders in Trump's trial have finished their opening arguments. Senators will now begin deliberations, submit written questions, and decide on President Trump's fate.

The impeachment of the president now lands squarely in an election year before a divided nation. Caucus voting begins Monday in Iowa, and Trump gives his State of the Union address the next night.

The Senate has already approved the date of Trump’s state of the union speech for Tuesday, Feb. 4.

Here are the key figures in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She led the impeachment effort. Chief Justice John Roberts. He will preside over the trial. The Senate's political leaders - Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. The president's legal defense team - White House counsel Pat Cipollone, Trump personal lawyer Jay Sekulow, Kenneth W. Starr, Alan Dershowitz, along with Robert Ray and Jane Raskin. House Democratic impeachment managers

Democrats badly wanted testimony from Bolton, whose forthcoming book links Trump directly to the charges. But Bolton won’t be summoned, and none of this appeared to affect the trial’s expected outcome.

In an unpublished manuscript, Bolton writes the president asked him during an Oval Office meeting in early May to bolster his effort to get Ukraine to investigate Democrats, according to a person who read the passage and told The Associated Press. The person, who was not authorized to disclose contents of the book, spoke only on condition of anonymity.

Donald Trump has become the third American president to be impeached. Trump has been charged with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Led by Democrats, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the articles of impeachment on Dec. 18, 2019. Trump will face trial in the GOP-controlled Senate in 2020, a presidential election year. Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were also impeached. Neither was removed from office.

The U.S. Constitution requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate, or 67 senators, to convict in an impeachment trial.

Republicans hold 53 seats in the Senate, while Democrats hold 45. However, two Independents — including presidential candidate Bernie Sanders of Vermont — regularly caucus with Democrats, giving the nation’s blue party 47 votes.

If the Senate votes along party lines regarding impeachment — as did the House — 20 Republican senators would have to join Democrats in convicting Trump and removing him from office.

Impeachment was established in the U.S. Constitution as a way to accuse a president of a crime and then hold a trial to determine if guilty. The first step requires a U.S. House member to introduce an impeachment resolution. The House speaker directs the judiciary committee to hold a hearing to decide whether to put the full measure to a vote by the full chamber. A majority of the committee must approve the resolution. If approved, it moves to a full vote on the House floor. If a majority of the House vot

The first article of impeachment passed by the House charges Trump with abuse of power.

Democrats allege Trump “solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. He did so through a scheme or course of conduct that included soliciting the government of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations that would benefit his reelection, harm the election prospects of a political opponent, and influence the 2020 U.S. president election to his advantage.”

»Read the best lines from President Trump’s Senate impeachment trial

The “election prospects of a political opponent” refer to Biden, currently a front-runner in a narrowing field of Democratic White House hopefuls.

The president “also sought to pressure the government of Ukraine to take these steps by conditioning official U.S. government acts of significant value to Ukraine on its public announcement of investigations.”

Democrats argue the president “used the powers of his presidency in a manner that compromised the national security of the United States and undermined the integrity of the United States democratic process. He thus ignored and injured the interests of the nation.”

How is your senator trending on impeachment?