Gov Beat

Senate Votes to Keep Witnesses out of Impeachment Trial

The Senate voted largely along party lines on Friday to move forward with President Trump’s impeachment trial without calling for additional witnesses.

The bottom line: The 49-51 vote was largely expected, after two out of four key Republicans backed away from allowing more witnesses in the trial — Sens. Lamar Alexander and Lisa Murkowski.

What’s next: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are caucusing with their parties to discuss a plan to reconvene the impeachment trial on Monday at 11 a.m. ET, with a final vote expected for Wednesday at 4 p.m., Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and other GOP senators and aides tell Axios’ Alayna Treene, Stef Kight and Margaret Talev.

  • Schumer lamented the decision to block witnesses as “one of the worst tragedies that the Senate has ever overcome,” while McConnell chastised Democrats for trying to “re-open” the impeachment investigation already conducted by the House.

The state of play:

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) voted to call witnesses, as she announced she would Thursday.

  • What she’s saying: “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.”

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) sided with Democrats and voted to call witnesses.

  • What he’s saying, per the NYT: “I think of this as an inflection point, politically in our country,” he said. “It’s a constitutional issue. I feel a sense of deep responsibility to abide by the Constitution, to determine — absent the pulls from the right and the pulls from the left — what is the right thing to do?”

Murkowski (R-Alaska) voted against additional witnesses, saying earlier Friday she doesn’t “believe the continuation of the process will change anything.”

  • What she’s saying: “Given the partisan nature of this impeachment from the very beginning and throughout, I have come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate. … It is sad for me to admit, as an institution, Congress has failed.”

Alexander (R-Tenn.) voted against calling for additional witnesses, as he announced he would Thursday night.

  • What he’s saying: “I worked with other senators to make sure that we have the right to ask for more documents and witnesses, but there is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven and that does not meet the U.S. Constitution’s high bar for an impeachable offense.”

What Trump is saying: “The president is gratified that finally at long last after multiple delays the Senate will set a schedule for his acquittal as quickly as possible. I do not believe that that schedule interferes with his ability to deliver a strong and confident State of the Union message next week in the House of Representatives,” White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland told Axios’ Alayna Treene.

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