Update 5:05p (CT): The U.S. Senate just defeated a motion to call witnesses in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial by a 49 to 51 vote. The vote was largely a party-line vote with only U.S. Senators Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Mitt Romney, R-Utah, voting for witnesses.
Original 1:59p (CT): There was speculation about whether or not there will be enough Republicans to join Democrats and vote for additional witnesses and extend the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.
U.S. Senators Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said they would vote in favor of calling additional witnesses such as former National Security Advisor John Bolton whom the House impeachment managers wanted to see called. If witnesses were called, Republicans would want to call Hunter Biden who is at the center of the Burisma investigation that President Donald Trump asked Ukraine to conduct.
The U.S. Senate trial is in its 11th day and heard arguments from House impeachment managers and President Donald Trump’s defense team. Senators were able to ask questions of the impeachment managers and defense team through Chief Justice John Roberts who presides over the trial.
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, announced that she would vote no on additional witnesses giving Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., enough votes, 51, to vote no on witnesses. This would allow the U.S. Senate to move on to debate and voting on the two articles of impeachment – Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Power – thus ending the impeachment trial.
“I worked with colleagues to ensure the schedule for the trial included a guaranteed up-or-down vote on whether or not to call witnesses. 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. Therefore, I will vote in support of the motion to allow witnesses and documents to be subpoenaed,” Collins said in a released statement on Thursday.
Liz Johnson, Romney’s spokesperson, tweeted on Friday morning that Romney will vote for additional witnesses and wanted to hear from Bolton in particular.
Murkowski said the House sent impeachment articles to the Senate that were “rushed and flawed.”
“I worked for a fair, honest, and transparent process, modeled after the Clinton trial, to provide ample time for both sides to present their cases, ask thoughtful questions, and determine whether we need more,” she said.
“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 added.
She then criticized the partisan nature of Trump’s impeachment.
“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. I don’t believe the continuation of this process will change anything. It is sad for me to admit that, as an institution, the Congress has failed,” Murkowski stated.
“It has also become clear some of my colleagues intend to further politicize this process, and drag the Supreme Court into the fray, while attacking the Chief Justice. I will not stand for nor support that effort. We have already degraded this institution for partisan political benefit, and I will not enable those who wish to pull down another. We are sadly at a low point of division in this country,” she concluded.