Senate Rejects Witnesses in Trump Impeachment Trial

The U.S. Senate voted on Friday against calling witnesses and collecting new evidence in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, clearing the way for Trump’s almost certain acquittal next week, Reuters reported.

By a vote of 51-49, the Republican-controlled Senate stopped Democrats’ drive to hear testimony from witnesses like former national security adviser John Bolton, who is thought to have first-hand knowledge of Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Those actions prompted the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives to formally charge Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in December, making Trump only the third president in U.S. history to be impeached.

He denies wrongdoing and has accused Democrats of an “attempted coup”.

The Senate approved on a party-line vote a timeline for the rest of the trial that calls for a final vote on the impeachment charges at 4 p.m. EST (2100 GMT) on Wednesday.

Closing arguments will begin at 11 a.m. EST (1600 GMT) on Monday, with four hours split between the prosecution and defense. That will give the four Democratic senators who are running to be their party’s presidential nominee time to get to Iowa for that night’s first nominating contest.

In between the closing arguments and final vote, senators will have an opportunity to give speeches on the Senate floor, but the trial will not formally be in session. Trump will deliver his State of the Union speech to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night.

The Senate is almost certain to acquit Trump of the charges, as a two-thirds Senate majority is required to remove Trump and none of the chamber’s 53 Republicans have indicated they will vote to convict.

Trump is seeking re-election in the November 3 vote, while Biden is a leading contender for the Democratic nomination to face him.

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