President Donald Trump seems headed for acquittal in his impeachment trial when one influential Republican senator said he would not support a call for more witness. Senators will gather Friday to debate and hold that crucial vote.
The impeachment trial is expected to resume at 1 p.m. Watch live below, courtesy of PBS NewsHour.
Friday’s vote on witnesses could lead to an abrupt end and assured acquittal in only the third presidential impeachment trial in American history. Trump has been pressing for action in time for his State of the Union address next Tuesday, and that now seems likely.
Despite the Democrats' singular, sometimes-passionate focus on calling witnesses after revelations from John Bolton, the former national security adviser, the numbers are now falling short. It would take four Republicans to break with the 53-seat majority and join with all Democrats to demand more testimony.
Chief Justice John Roberts, in the rare role presiding over the impeachment trial, could break a tie, but that seems unlikely.
Democrats' hopes of prolonging the trial dimmed after a late decision from Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. Alexander said in a statement Thursday there was “no need for more evidence,” giving the Trump team the likelihood of a Senate vote in its direction. Not that he accepted Trump's repeated claim of “perfect” dealings with Ukraine.
"I concluded, after nine long days and hearing 200 video clips of witnesses ... I didn't need any more evidence because I thought it was proved that the president did what he was charged with doing," Alexander told reporters Friday. "But that didn't rise to the level of an impeachable offense, so I didn't I didn't need any more evidence to make my decision.”
Asked whether Trump deserved reelection in the wake of such wrongdoing, Alexander said, “Everyone will have to make that decision for themselves.”
Trump was impeached by the House last month on charges that he abused his power like no other president, jeopardizing Ukraine and U.S.-Ukraine relations. Democrats say Trump asked the vulnerable ally to investigate Joe Biden and debunked theories of 2016 election interference, withholding American security aid to the country as it battled Russia at its border.
The second article of impeachment says Trump then obstructed the House probe in a way that threatened the nation's three-branch system of checks and balances.