The Senate is expected to begin closing arguments in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial on Monday.

Associated Press

The impeachment trial has ended for Friday. The trial resumes Monday at 11 a.m. EST. Refresh this page for updates.

WASHINGTON – The Senate will hold a final vote on whether to acquit or convict and remove President Donald Trump from office on Wednesday.

The final vote will occur at 4 p.m. EST and will cap a months-long saga over Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

Democrats allege Trump pursued a pressure campaign to get Ukraine to open investigations that would benefit him politically. He was also accused of withholding aid and a White House meeting from the ally nation in exchange for the investigations.

On Dec. 18, after a two-month inquiry in the Democratic-led House, the House approved two articles of impeachment against Trump – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The Wednesday vote will be on whether to convict or acquit Trump on those charges. It’s expected Trump will be acquitted because a conviction requires 67 votes in the 100-member Senate. That would mean all Democrats and at least 20 Republican senators would need to vote for conviction. 

The Senate will hold closing arguments on Monday. There will be a total of four hours of arguments, equally divided among the parties. Senators can explain their votes in speeches Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Trump is scheduled to give the annual State of the Union address on Tuesday.


With the vast majority of senators voting along party lines, a motion to call witnesses failed in the U.S. Senate in Trump’s impeachment trial.


Trial won’t cloud Trump’s address, White House says 

Eric Ueland, the White House legislative affairs director, said while the president has advocated for a swift acquittal in his impeachment trial, the delayed vote on Wednesday won’t cloud his State of the Union address scheduled the day before. 

“It’s a strong one-two punch to have the State of the Union with a clear vision, clear agenda and clear focus for 2020 followed immediately by an acquittal on these fake articles of impeachment,” Ueland said. 

Ueland argued having the president’s address on Tuesday will help divert attention from impeachment. The timing of the final vote a day later is a “happy coincidence,” he said. 

“There will be a significant public focus on the successes of the president and the invalidation of these fake charges,” he added. 

Ueland wouldn’t say whether the president might discuss impeachment in his address. 

– Christal Hayes

Marie Yovanovitch retires, report says

NPR and CBS News are reporting that former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, has retired from the U.S. Foreign Service. She played a high-profile role in the House impeachment inquiry – testifying about her ouster amid a smear campaign by President Donald Trump’s allies even as the president denounced her via Twitter.

The State Department press office did not respond to an email seeking comment.

While the top U.S. diplomat in Kyiv, Yovanovitch worked with Ukrainian officials to help them implement good-government reforms.

Trump removed Yovanovitch – a career diplomat who also served as an ambassador to Armenia and Kyrgyzstan – last year as part of his pressure campaign aimed at getting Ukraine to announce two investigations that would have benefited him in his 2020 re-election campaign.  

In her House testimony, Yovanovitch told lawmakers she had been ousted from her job over “unfounded and false claims.” She also warned that the State Department was being “hollowed out from within,” posing risks for the country’s national security interests.

– Deirdre Shesgreen

Moderate Democrats won’t give decisions on final vote

Multiple Democrats who are unknown votes on acquitting or convicting Trump were tight-lipped leaving the Capitol Friday night.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., wouldn’t answer any questions on how she is voting next week, or what she thought of today’s failed attempt to call for witnesses and documents, which she voted for. 

Doug Jones, D-Ala., said that he will announce his decision in “due course next week” to ensure that he gets it “right,” but expressed that he was “disappointed” by the unsuccessful resolution for witnesses. 

“The American people deserve to hear from players,” he elaborated. When pressed on whether the lack of witnesses would influence his vote one way or the other, he said, “I can make a decision. I’ll put it that way.”

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., declared that he wouldn’t know how he was voting “until walking in” to the chamber. “I swear to God. I know it’s hard to believe.”

He elaborated that he is going to “dissect” all the notes he and his staff have been taking and “then make a decision based on what we see.”

Manchin also said he would be speaking on the Senate floor “Monday or Tuesday” but doesn’t know yet what he will be saying. 

He continued that he was concerned that his GOP colleagues “didn’t want a fair trial” but that he “loves them all, we just disagree.”

– Savannah Behrmann

Murkowski: possibility of tie vote on witnesses had ‘heavy’ influence on decision

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who has been tight-lipped on her final vote, told reporters on her way out of the Capitol she has made her mind but wouldn’t tell anyone her decision.

“Will I share it with you tonight? I’ve had so much much drama today. I’m just going to chill,” she said. 

Asked if the possibility of a 50-50 tie on witnesses had affected her vote not to include them, she said it had a “heavy” influence.

All eyes were on Murkowski early Friday as she was one of the few swing senators who had not disclosed how she would vote on whether or not to allow witnesses. Her ultimate decision against witnesses led to a decisive 51-49 vote not to subpoena them.

Had she gone the other way, it could have resulted in a 50-50 tie that would have raised the difficult question of whether Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the trial, could or would break the tie.

Roberts later said he would not break a tie.

– Nicholas Wu

Senate impeachment verdict scheduled for 4 p.m. Wednesday

The Senate approved final rules Friday for the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

The rules call for a total of four hours of closing arguments Monday from House Democrats prosecuting the case and Trump’s defense team, beginning at 11 a.m.

The vote on the verdict is scheduled Wednesday at 4 p.m.

Approval of the final arguments came after the Senate rejected four proposals to call witnesses in the trial. The Senate had voted 51 to 49 to reject all witnesses. Two Republicans – Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah – joined Democrats in seeking witnesses generally and former national security adviser John Bolton in particular.

But the Senate also voted 53 to 47 along straight party lines to reject a group of four Democratic witnesses and again to reject having Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts issue subpoenas, to resolve claims of executive privilege.

– Bart Jansen

Senate trial to spill into Iowa caucuses, complicating things for 4 candidates

The four members of the Senate running for president may need to watch Iowa caucuses results from Washington, D.C., and not Iowa, as the impeachment trial spills into Monday, the day of the first nominating contest in the 2020 election.

Members of the Senate are required to remain in the Capitol for the duration of the impeachment trial, where closing arguments will take place Monday. That poses an issue for for Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Michael Bennet, all candidates with a lot riding on the Iowa caucuses.

Asked about the possibility of missing the caucuses, Klobuchar told reporters, “bring it on!”

“My view is the people of Iowa and beyond will understand I’m in the area. I have a job to do,” she said.   

– Nicholas Wu and Savannah Behrmann

Senate rejects having Roberts issue subpoenas in trial

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., proposed Friday to have Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding at the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, to issue subpoenas for witnesses and documents.

But the Senate voted 53 to 47 along party lines to reject the proposal. Roberts already refused to break potential ties in the trial, saying it would be inappropriate because he was an official from another branch of government.

– Bart Jansen

Schumer tries to subpoena Bolton again and again. Efforts fail

The Senate rejected two more proposals Friday from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to subpoena former national security director John Bolton, following earlier rejections of witnesses in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

The Senate had already voted 51 to 49 to reject all witnesses in the trial. But Schumer, D-N.Y., negotiated to propose four amendments to the final resolution setting rules for the trial.

Schumer’s proposal to subpoena Bolton alone was rejected by a vote of 51 to 49. Two Republican senators – Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah – joined Democrats in seeking his testimony.

Schumer’s third proposal added more details to how Bolton would testify. Schumer proposed to depose Bolton within one day, which Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the Senate trial, would preside over the deposition, too.

House Democrats had argued that Roberts could determine whether any of Bolton’s testimony should be protected by executive privilege, to keep advice to the president confidential. The testimony in the Senate would have had to occur within five days.

But Schumer’s proposal was rejected on the same 51 to 49 vote, with Collins and Romney joining Democrats.

– Bart Jansen

Senate rejects Democrat proposal to subpoena witnesses

The Senate rejected a proposal from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to subpoena four witnesses and documents in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

The Senate had already voted 51 to 49 to reject all witnesses in the trial. But Schumer, D-N.Y., negotiated to propose four amendments to the final resolution setting rules for the trial.

The first proposal was to call four witnesses including former national security adviser John Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. But the proposal with specific names was rejected by a straight party-line vote of 53 to 47.

– Bart Jansen

Roberts refuses to break Senate ties

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts refused Friday to break a potential tie Senate vote in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., had asked whether Roberts was familiar with the 1868 trial of President Andrew Johnson, when the chief justice voted twice to break ties.

Roberts said he was familiar with the votes, but said he would not break a tie in order for a motion to succeed. Roberts said the two votes dealt with a motion to adjourn and a motion to close deliberations.

“I do not regard those isolated episodes 150 years ago as sufficient to support the legal authoritiy to break ties,” Roberts said. “I think it would be inappropriate for me, an unelected official from a different branch of government, to change the result so that the motion would succeed.”

– Bart Jansen


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Senate rejects witnesses at Trump trial 

The Senate voted Friday to reject subpoenas for witnesses or documents in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, clearing the way for a vote on the verdict.

The largely party-line vote of 51-49 was expected. The 47 Democrats needed at least four Republicans to join them to call witnesses. Only two Republicans – Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah – had announced they would support calling witnesses.

Democrats sought testimony from four officials, including former national security adviser John Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who each declined invitations to testify during the House inquiry.

The Senate then went into recess with no clear timetable for when it will return.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., are negotiating the terms for closing the trial. The House Democrats prosecuting the case and President Donald Trump’s defense team are expected to deliver closing arguments, but the length is among the issues open to debate. McConnell and Schumer must also decide how much time senators have to debate the verdict, and whether to have that debate in open or closed session.

Schumer denounced the vote as “One of the worst tragedies that the Senate has ever overcome. America will remember this day, unfortunately, where the Senate did not live up to its responsibilities, where the Senate turned away from truth and went along with a sham.”

McConnell, in a statement after the vote, said there was “no need” to “re-open the investigation.”

“Never in Senate history has this body paused an impeachment trial to pursue additional witnesses with unresolved questions of executive privilege that would require protracted litigation,” McConnell said. “We have no interest in establishing such a new precedent, particularly for individuals whom the House expressly chose not to pursue.”

White House officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they fully expected the vote and want the Senate to wrap up the trial as soon as possible. They declined to discuss what they might do if the trial is extended into the time for the State of the Union address on Tuesday. 

The chamber grew quiet as the clerk took the much-anticipated roll call-vote.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who had been previously decided on witnesses, started the vote with an emphatic “no!”

Hours before the vote, a New York Times report heightened attention on witnesses because Bolton’s pending book described Trump asking Bolton to pave the way for the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to meet with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.

But Trump has denied such a meeting and has suggested he might assert executive privilege to block Bolton’s testimony. 

If witnesses had been allowed, Trump’s defense team said they would call their own and the process could take months longer. But the House managers said they could depose witnesses within a week.

– Bart Jansen

Senate voting on whether to allow witnesses at Trump trial 

The Senate is voting on whether to subpoena witnesses or documents in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

The Democratic effort to hear from witnesses and retrieve documents is expected to be rejected, based on how senators have said they will vote.

Democrats seek testimony from four officials, including former national security adviser John Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. But because a majority of the Senate sets trial policy, the 47 Democrats need at least four Republicans to join them in calling witnesses.

Only two Republicans – Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah – have announced they will support calling witnesses. Two other potential swing votes – GOP Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska – said they would vote against witnesses.

– Bart Jansen

Trump attorney: Dem. case against president ‘defective’

President Donald Trump’s defense team argued Friday during his impeachment trial that the Senate doesn’t need to call more witnesses because the case from House Democrats is defective, but that calling witnesses could permanently damage relations between Congress and the presidency.

“These articles of impeachment on their face are defective,” said Patrick Philbin, deputy White House counsel.

House Democrats have argued that witnesses such as former national security adviser John Bolton are crucial to the case because they could provide first-hand information about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

But Philbin noted that disputes about witnesses are typically settled before trials, not in the midst of them. He argued that no witnesses were necessary because the accusation that Trump abused the power of his office by pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rival was too vague to enforce.

“The theory of abuse of power that they have framed in the first article of impeachment would do grave damage to the separation of powers under our Constitution because it would become so malleable, they can pour into it anything they want to find illicit motives for some perfectly permissible action,” Philbin said.

‘The Russians are coming’:: And other moments from a busy day in Congress and the impeachment trial

Philbin argued that the accusation of obstruction was illegitimate because Trump was simply exercising his constitutional rights to protect the release of information in defying congressional subpoenas.

Philbin noted that House Democrats already provided transcripts from depositions with 17 witnesses, including 12 who testified at hearings. The House managers played 192 video clips from 13 witnesses, he said. And Democrats provided the Senate with 28,000 pages of documents to support their case.

But Philbin said it would be dangerous for the Senate to call witnesses in the midst of a trial because it would expose future presidents to weak accusations.

“Here, to show up not having done the work, and to expect that work to be done in the Senate, by this body, has grave consequences for the institutional interests of this body,” Philbin said.

– Bart Jansen

Senators still taking notes on the floor

Democratic House impeachment managers mainly argued for the necessity of witnesses during their closing arguments as more Republicans came out Friday morning with statements saying they will not vote to hear from witnesses.

Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., and Doug Jones, D-Ala., who are undecided Democratic votes on the final vote to acquit, paid close attention to House manager Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, scribbling lots of notes.

At one point when House manager Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., was speaking, there were at least 19 open GOP seats.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., another unknown vote on acquittal, was gazing intensely at lead manager Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., as he wrapped up the closing arguments with an impassioned speech.

A McConnell aide handed Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a note. Collins, who last night in a statement said she wanted to witnesses, then passed the note to her desk-neighbor, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who said this morning she did not want witnesses. The two then whispered back-and-forth.

The chamber was completely silent as Schiff declared, “Because whether you have a fair trial or no trial at all depends on whether you’re a person of power and influence like Donald J. Trump. The body will die, the clock will run down and our government becomes arbitrary. The importance of a fair trial here is not less than every courtroom in America, it is greater than any courtroom in America, because we set the example for America.”

– Savannah Behrmann

Schumer: There is no deal to end trial

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he has no agreement with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., about how the Senate trial of President Donald Trump will be concluded.

“We do not want this rushed through,” Schumer said. “We do not want it in the dark of night.”

House managers and Trump’s defense team are arguing Friday over whether to call witnesses. But other debate might follow.

“We are going to use whatever power we have to prevent it from being rushed through,” Schumer said. “But right now there is no agreement.”

– Bart Jansen

Trump aides say his State of the Union has a theme: “optimism”

Sure, the Senate is holding an impeachment trial and political tensions are high, but White House officials say President Donald Trump will seek to strike an upbeat tone when he delivers his State of the Union speech next week.

Previewing the address on Friday, Trump administration officials said the working title of the annual address is the “Great American Comeback” and the tone will be one of “relentless optimism.”

In general, Trump will focus on five general areas: The economy and trade, working families, health care, immigration and national security. One specific part of the speech will deal with the “school choice” issue, aides said.

Will he mention impeachment? Aides wouldn’t say, adding that it depends in part on whether or not the trial is over by speech time on Tuesday night.

State of the Union: Trump to make ‘school choice’ a major topic at State of the Union address

The aides also discussed the speech on condition of anonymity because it is still being developed and could change depending on the news. “Events always happen,” one official said.

They also would not say whether Trump plans to mention another divisive topic: The upcoming presidential election.

“No speech is ever final until it is delivered,” the official said.

– David Jackson

Sen. Barrasso lays out what’s next

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., told reporters the process for the rest of Friday would involve the introduction of a resolution organizing the final part of the trial.

After the vote on witnesses, Barrasso said the resolution laying out the end of the trial would be introduced.

“There will be a simple resolution like that organizing resolution,” he explained, referring to the resolution setting up rules for the trial passed in the early hours of Jan. 22.

“And once that is finally gone through all the amendment process and passed then we’ll have a much better idea how much time for closing arguments,” he said.

Barrasso said timing tonight “depends on what Sen. Schumer wants to bring forth” in terms of amendments.

– Nicholas Wu

Lawyers arrive at Capitol to demand ‘impartial justice’

Hundreds of lawyers joined together in silence as they marched in a single file line from the U.S. Capitol to the steps of the Supreme Court to demand senators carry out their “duty to do impartial justice” in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

The lawyers gathered at the Supreme Court to hear remarks from Barbara Arnwine, former executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights under Law.  

“We have come here today even though it’s cold outside, but we’ve come here today because burden in our hearts is a desire for justice,” Arnwine told the crowd.

Traci Feit Love, founder of Lawyers for Good Government, said she was proud of the large turnout and those who traveled long distances on short notice to make their voices heard.

Rebecca Young was one of the long-distance travelers who came from Massachusetts “to hold senators accountable to the oath they swore.”

“It’s incredibly important to me and to future of this country to do everything we can to try and ensure that the U.S. Senate actually holds a meaningful impeachment trial,” Young said.

Following the silent march and press conference, the lawyers delivered signed letters to Senate offices.

The letters, which were signed by over 2,000 people, calls for senators to determine the purpose and legal standards for impeachable offenses, and hear all relevant evidence. 

Participants of the protest included Lawyers for Good Government, Lawyers Defending American Democracy, Lawyer Moms of America and Demand Justice.

– McKenzie Sadeghi

Schiff: ‘no’ vote on witnesses will have ‘harmful’ consequences

The lead House manager, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said the Senate will nullify the congressional impeachment power if senators choose not to subpoena witnesses in the trial of President Donald Trump.

“A no vote on the question before you will have long-lasting and harmful consequences long after this impeachment trial is over,” Schiff said. “This will set a new precedent. This will be cited in impeachment trials from this point until the end of history.”

Schiff said if presidents are allowed to defy subpoenas and withhold witnesses and document during clashes with Congress, presidents will be able to avoid routine oversight and block impeachment.

“It effectively nullifies the impeachment power,” Schiff said. “I submit that will be a very dangerous and long-lasting precedent that we will all have to live with.”

– Bart Jansen

Lofgren: White House defiance of subpoenas is a ‘coverup’ 

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., accused President Donald Trump of engaging in a “coverup” by not handing over documents Democrats requested in the impeachment trial.

Lofgren, a House manager, said the documents go to the heart of who knew what and when in the investigation of Trump pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. But she said the White House is hiding them.

The House subpoenaed documents about the July 25, 2019, call between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, as well as: National Security Council staffer Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s presidential policy memo in preparation for the call; any records about scheduling potential meetings between the leaders; and any notes of concern from public officials, such as handwritten notes from former national security adviser John Bolton.

She’s urging the Senate to subpoena the same documents, which Democrats think would receive more favorable treatment in federal court during an impeachment trial.

“The documents don’t lie,” said Lofgren, who was a congressional staffer during the impeachment inquiry of former President Richard Nixon and a House member during former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment. “They’re at the White House, being hidden by the president. I think it’s a coverup.”

– Bart Jansen

Garcia: Trump doesn’t get exoneration without witnesses

One of the House managers, Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, said President Donald Trump should want a fair trial because he seeks exoneration.

But she argued that a fair trial required additional witnesses such as former national security adviser John Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who Democrats want to call while Trump’s defense team opposes their testimony.

“Whatever you say about this trial, there cannot be an exoneration without hearing from those witnesses,” Garcia said. “An acquittal on an incomplete record after a trial lacking witnesses and evidence will be no exoneration. It will be no vindication, not for the president, not for this chamber and not for the American people.”

Trump’s lawyers have argued the Senate shouldn’t call more witnesses because the House should have made a complete case before sending it to the Senate. Legal fights over witnesses, such as whether Trump could assert executive privilege to block testimony from Bolton, could extend the trial by months, the lawyers argued.

The defense lawyers also argued that Trump’s defiance of subpoenas wasn’t an admission of guilt because he was simply exercising his rights and protecting confidential advice from top aides for future presidents.

But Garcia said the defiance suggested he had something to hide.

“If the president is telling the truth, and he did nothing wrong, and the evidence would prove that, then we all know that he would be an enthusiastic supporter of subpoenas,” Garcia said.

– Bart Jansen

Schiff accuses Trump lawyer Cipollone of hiding evidence

The lead House prosecutor in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump accused the president’s lead defender, White House counsel Pat Cipollone, of concealing crucial information from senators after The New York Times reported Cipollone was in a key meeting involving Ukraine.

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., cited a Times report Friday about former national security adviser John Bolton. Bolton wrote in a pending book that Trump asked him in early May 2019 to pave the way for a meeting between Rudy Giuliani and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to the story. Cipollone attended the meeting, according to the Times report.

Schiff noted that Cipollone had accused House Democrats of withholding evidence in the case. Schiff suggested that Cipollone was hiding information as the leader of Trump’s defense and a potential witness in the case.

“He said all the facts should come out. Well, there’s a new fact that indicates that Mr. Cipollone was among those who were in the loop,” Schiff said.

Schiff argued that the revelation was another reason for the Senate to subpoena witnesses such as Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who was also reportedly in the meeting.

Schiff acknowledged that Trump denied the meeting ever took place. Bolton wrote that he never made the call. And Giuliani said he never made the trip. But Schiff argued it was another reason to hear Bolton testify.

“Let’s find out. Let’s put John Bolton under oath. Let’s find out who’s telling the truth,” Schiff said. “A trial is supposed to be a quest for the truth. Let’s not fear what we will learn. As Mr. Cipollone said, let’s make sure all the facts come out.”

Two legal ethics experts said Friday that Cipollone appears to have been in an untenable dual role — both lawyer and witness.

If the report in Bolton’s manuscript is true, Cipollone should have been a fact witness at the impeachment trial and not a lawyer, said Stephen Gillers, a professor at New York University School of law and author of “Regulation of Lawyers: Problems of Law and Ethics.”

In a typical trial, Gillers said, a judge would have required Cipollone to reply to the Jan. 21 letter from House impeachment managers calling on him to disclose firsthand information connected to his arguments as Trump’s lawyer “so that the Senate and Chief Justice can be apprised of any potential ethical issues, conflicts, or biases.”

If a judge were to decide Cipollone could be called as a witness, “he could not have been on the trial team,” Gillers said in an email to USA TODAY.

“A lawyer who should testify but instead acts as a trial lawyer is in effect a stealth witness,” Giller said. “He can use what he knows as a witness to shape his trial advocacy, but he is not under oath or subject to cross-examination.”

Cipollone didn’t speak during the hours of debate about whether to call witnesses in the trial, leaving that to Philbin and Jay Sekulow.

Ellen Yaroshefsky, executive director of a legal ethics institute at Hofstra University School of Law, said Cipollone should have withdrawn from Trump’s trial team.

“As soon as there’s an allegation that there was a (White House) conversation like this, you should recuse yourself. You can’t be a lawyer and a witness about a substantial issue” in the case, Yaroshefsky said in a phone interview.

– Bart Jansen and Kevin McCoy

Murkowski says she’s a ‘no’ vote on calling witnesses at Trump trial 

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, announced Friday she will not vote to call witnesses in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, virtually assuring that Democrats won’t have the 51 votes needed to hear from former national security adviser John Bolton or others.

“The House chose to send articles of impeachment that are rushed and flawed. I carefully considered the need for additional witnesses and documents, to cure the shortcomings of its process, but ultimately decided that I will vote against considering motions to subpoena,” Murkowski said in a statement.

Murkowski was the last of a handful of Republicans who had expressed a potential openness to witnesses.

That likely sets up a 51-49 split in the closely divided chamber against considering additional evidence. Democrats need four Republicans to side with them to continue the trial.

After two other pivotal senators – Maine’s Susan Collins and Utah’s Mitt Romney -announced late Thursday they wanted witnesses, swing vote Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said he did not.

The announcements turned all eyes on Murkowski, who told reporters as she left that Senate chamber around 11 p.m. Thursday that she was still weighing her options.

Pointing to her two volumes packed with notes, the Alaska Republican said: “I’m going to go back to my office and put eye drops in so I can keep reading.”

During Thursday’s session, Murkowski asked Trump’s defense team why senators should not call Bolton to testify. In an upcoming book, Bolton reportedly contradicts a key defense of Trump’s team: that there are no eyewitnesses to the allegation that Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine to get the country to investigate Democrats.

Patrick Philbin, a deputy White House counsel, warned that agreeing to call additional witnesses would establish new standards for impeachment, if the House can send “half-baked” cases and leave the Senate to complete the investigation. Philbin also said Bolton hadn’t confirmed the newspaper report about what’s in his manuscript.

Trump has denied telling Bolton that the Ukraine aid was tied to investigations but ordered him not to testify in the House’s investigation.

– Marueen Groppe

More Bolton book reports drop before trial 

 As senators prepare for a pivotal day in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, The New York Times reported new alleged details about the president’s involvement in Ukraine.

In former national security adviser John Bolton’s upcoming book, he wrote that Trump asked him in May to make sure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would meet with Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to talk about the investigations Trump wanted, the Times reported.

That request was made during an Oval Office meeting that included Giuliani, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel leading Trump’s defense team in the Senate impeachment trial.

The Times was first to report earlier that Bolton describes in the book how Trump said in August that he wanted to continue the suspension of $391 million in military assistance to Ukraine until the country helped investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

John Bolton: Bolton alerted top Democrat to ‘improper’ Yovanovitch’s ouster after he left White House

Senators will vote today on whether to hear from Bolton or other witnesses. Bolton could contradict a key defense of Trump’s team: that there are no eyewitnesses to the allegation that Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine to get the country to investigate Democrats.

“No matter what the results of today’s vote, I believe the truth will eventually come out,” warned Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “We could vote to see the truth in this trial, or it could come out in a few weeks or a few months. And on that day, every Republican who voted to hide the truth in an impeachment trial of the president, will have to answer for it.”

Trump, in a statement, denied Bolton’s claim:

“I never instructed John Bolton to set up a meeting for Rudy Giuliani, one of the greatest corruption fighters in America and by far the greatest mayor in the history of NYC, to meet with President Zelensky. That meeting never happened.”

– Maureen Groppe and David Jackson

Sen. Sherrod Brown: GOP colleagues have ‘fear in their eyes’

For weeks, Republican senators have presented a largely unified front in public: President Donald Trump did nothing wrong regarding Ukraine and he should never have been impeached.

But Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown said he senses something different behind closed doors: many are afraid to say anything critical.

“I’ve spoken to lots of Republicans, as my colleagues have, talking to them about this,” the Ohio lawmaker told reporters at a morning news conference. “We know what they say about this president in private. We know the fear in their eyes about voting against this president,”

Brown said he’s talked to his GOP colleagues about his concerns that acquittal will encourage Trump to become “unhinged,” and that he’ll continue engaging in “reckless” foreign policy and try to steal the 2020 election.

“I ask my colleagues and all they do is shrug,” he said. “They know better.”

At the same news conference, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer called Trump a “vindictive nasty president'” who goes after anyone who opposes him.

– Ledyard King

GOP Sen. Mike Enzi was only senator not to submit question

Senators just spent 16 grueling hours over two full days posing dozens of questions to Democratic House managers and President Donald Trump’s defense team during the impeachment trial.

Only one senator decided not to submit any: Republican Mike Enzi of Wyoming.

There was no reason to, his spokeswoman Rachel Vliem responded in an email when asked why.

“Senator Enzi didn’t submit any questions because he felt that the questions he had were asked by his colleagues,” she wrote.

– Ledyard King

All eyes on Murkowski as decisions looms on witnesses

After three pivotal Republican senators indicated Thursday night whether they would vote to call witnesses in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, all eyes turned to another Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

And the Alaska senator was turning to Visine.

“I’m going to go back to my office and put eye drops in so I can keep reading,” Murkowski told reporters as she left the Senate, pointing to two volumes of notes she’d taken during the trial. “I’ve been forming a lot of thoughts so that’s going to be my job now at almost 11:00.”

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., had just announced that he would not join with Democrats in Friday’s vote on whether to extend the trial by issuing subpoenas for witnesses and documents.

“There is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven and that does not meet the United States Constitution’s high bar for an impeachable offense,” Alexander said.

Two other key GOP senators – Maine’s Susan Collins and Utah’s Mitt Romney – had said they did want to learn more.

“I believe hearing from certain witnesses would give each side the opportunity to more fully and fairly make their case, resolve any ambiguities, and provide additional clarity,” Collins said.

Because a majority of the Senate sets policy in the trial, the 47 Senate Democrats need at least four of the 53 Republicans to support subpoenas to summon witnesses or seek documents, as House managers have urged.

If Murkowski votes for witnesses and no other senator crosses party lines, that would set up a 50-50 tie. It’s not clear whether Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the trial, would break the tie.

If Murkowski decides she’s heard enough, that likely sets up a 51-49 vote against witnesses.

Murkowski offered a hint about her thinking when she asked Trump’s defense team Thursday why the Senate shouldn’t call Bolton.

“This dispute about material facts weighs in favor of calling additional witnesses with direct knowledge,” Murkowski said in the written question, read by Roberts.

In an upcoming book, Bolton reportedly contradicts a key aspect of Trump’s defense argued by his lawyers in the Senate trial: that there are no witnesses who have linked Trump’s withholding of military aid to Ukraine to investigations of former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden or a debunked theory about Ukraine meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

Patrick Philbin, a deputy White House counsel, warned that agreeing to call additional witnesses would establish new standards for impeachment, if the House can send “half-baked” cases and leave the Senate to complete the investigation. Philbin also said Bolton hadn’t confirmed the newspaper report.

“It will do grave damage to this body as an institution to say that the proceedings in the House don’t have to really be complete,” Philbin said. “That’s not the way that this chamber should allow impeachments to be presented to it.”

Trump has denied telling Bolton that the Ukraine aid was tied to investigations but ordered him not to testify in the House’s investigation.

– Maureen Groppe

Pompeo demurs on White House visit for Ukraine’s Zelensky

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky both insisted Friday that the impeachment of President Donald Trump had not soured U.S.-Ukraine relations.

“It seems to me it’s the other way around.  We have excellent relations between our countries,” Zelensky said during a joint news conference with Pompeo in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv.

Pompeo described Ukraine as a “bulwark between freedom and authoritarianism in Eastern Europe,” but he demurred when asked if Trump would invite Zelensky to Washington for a coveted White House meeting. 

“We’ll find the right time,” Pompeo said. “President Zelensky will be welcome to come to Washington when we have an opportunity to do good things for both the Ukrainian people and the American people. We’ll get it done.”

After his election last year, Zelensky sought a White House meeting as a show of U.S. support as Ukraine battles Russian aggression. Although Trump told Zelensky he would invite him, White House officials never gave Ukrainian officials a date.

In the article of impeachment charging Trump with abuse of power, House Democrats have accused Trump of using a White House visit and U.S. military assistance as leverage in his effort to coerce Zelensky into opening investigations into a political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

On Friday, Pompeo denied the Trump administration has set any conditions on Ukraine. And during his impeachment trial in the Senate, Trump’s defense lawyers have stressed that Zelensky had a personal meeting with Trump last fall as the Ukraine controversy was dominating headlines; the two leaders met on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

– Deirdre Shesgreen and Kim Hjelmgaard


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Trump: Trial ‘very boring to watch’

The TV critic in chief has issued his review of his Senate impeachment trial.

“It’s very boring to watch,” President Donald Trump told Fox News Thursday night. “I have to say that it’s very boring.”

Trump, a former reality television star, told Fox News’ Peter Doocy that he has watched “a little bit” of the trial.

Asked if he has any concern about the trial, Trump responded that he has “great confidence in the Republicans and the Republican Senate.”

“And I know they’re going to be fair,” Trump said.

The GOP controls the Senate, with a 53-47 advantage over Democrats in the chamber.

– Maureen Groppe

Report: Bolton encourages others to speak their truth

As the Senate gets ready to decide whether to hear from former national security adviser John Bolton in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, Bolton reportedly encouraged others who have served Trump not to be afraid to speak out.

Television station KXAN in Austin, Texas., reported that Bolton spoke at a private event there where he defended former diplomatic and state department officials who testified during the House impeachment inquiry.

Bolton also said that others should feel free to talk without retribution, the station reported. Testifying to what they think is true is the exact opposite of being destructive to the system of government, he reportedly said.

Bolton’s soon-to-be-published book reportedly alleges Trump demanded Ukraine investigate Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, in exchange for foreign aid.

White House security officials this week threatened to block the book’s publication unless Bolton deletes information they deemed classified.

Bolton’s attorney has disputed that anything in the book “could reasonably be considered classified.”

– Maureen Groppe

Judgment day for Trump?

Friday is shaping up to be judgment day for President Donald Trump.

The GOP-controlled Senate could wrap up the impeachment trial for Trump and acquit him, or decide to prolong the proceedings – possibly for weeks – by calling witnesses to testify. That would postpone a final vote on whether to remove him from office.

Thursday ended with the second round of questions being asked but with no certainty to how senators would vote on adding witnesses. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and other GOP leaders have balked at the idea of more witnesses, notably John Bolton. In his forthcoming book, Trump’s former national security adviser writes that the president told him to withhold military aid to Ukraine until Ukraine announced political investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

Defense line: Trump lawyer Dershowitz argues president can’t be impeached for an act he thinks will help his reelection

Democrats, who control 47 of the chamber’s 100 seats, have been trying to convince at least four Republican senators to join them in demanding Bolton and other administration witnesses appear to discuss the president’s conduct regarding Ukraine.

If Democrats fail, the third impeachment of a president in U.S. history will end like the previous two.

The House on Dec. 18 impeached Trump on two articles – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress – after hearings by the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees into whether he tried to leverage the aid to Ukraine in exchange for digging up dirt on the Bidens.

The Senate trial began Jan. 21 with House Democratic lawmakers acting as prosecutors laying out the case against Trump over three days. Trump’s lawyers then began their defense of the president on Saturday and wrapped up Tuesday. As required by Senate rules, both sides – Republican and Democratic senators – were given a chance to pose follow-up questions to the Democratic House managers and Trump’s defense team on Wednesday and Thursday.

True or false?: Senate impeachment trial: Fact-checking opening arguments of Trump’s defense team

Trump has denied any wrongdoing, saying he had a duty to make sure any country receiving aid is meeting its obligations and that impeachment over this issue would weaken any president’s ability to carry out policy. His lawyers and political allies also say this impeachment effort lacks merit because no specific crime is being alleged.

Democrats contend Trump never cared about corruption in Ukraine until he saw Joe Biden emerge as the biggest threat to his 2020 reelection. The withholding of money in order to get Ukraine to announce the investigations and weaken Biden in the process is exactly the kind of “high crime” that the nation’s founding fathers were referencing when they created the impeachment mechanism.

Whatever the outcome, the process has left raw feelings on both sides of the aisle.

“Like war, impeachment is hell, or at least presidential impeachment is hell,” Trump lawyer Ken Starr, who led the investigation that led to Bill Clinton’s impeachment more than 20 years ago, told senators Monday. “Those of us who lived through the Clinton impeachment, including members of this body, full well understand that a president impeachment is tantamount to domestic war.” 

– Ledyard King

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