End of Trump impeachment trial in sight after Senate rejects calling witnesses

End of Trump impeachment trial in sight after Senate rejects calling witnesses

Agency News

Washington, Jan 31: Final votes on articles of impeachment against US President Donald Trump are to take place next week after the Senate voted Friday to reject effort in seeking witnesses and documents for the proceeding.

The Republican-controlled Senate voted 51 to 49 to block a motion Friday evening that would allow subpoenas for witnesses and documents in the impeachment trial.

Two Republicans joined Democrats in requesting witnesses for the impeachment trial but they fell short of a simple majority needed to pass the motion.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, speaking to reporters after the failed attempt, called it "a grand tragedy."

"America will remember this day, unfortunately, when the Senate did not live up to its responsibilities," the New York Democrat said.

The vote came after the House impeachment managers and Trump's defense team debated for hours over whether the Senate should call witnesses on Friday.

It also followed more than a week of arguments from both sides and a questions-and-answers session involving all senators who act as the jury.

White House legal counsel Patrick Philbin argued on Friday that the Senate "is not here to do the investigatory work that the House didn't do."

Lead House impeachment manager Adam Schiff rebuked the argument, saying that "a trial is supposed to be a quest for the truth."

The Senate voted Friday night to approve a resolution proposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch that calls for closing statements on the upcoming Monday and votes on articles of impeachment against Trump on Wednesday.

Democrats pushed votes on a number of amendments to McConnell's resolution but all their efforts failed.

The Democrat-led House impeached Trump last month for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, charges that the White House has refuted.

A whistleblower raised concern in an anonymous complaint last summer about the White House's interactions with Ukraine, triggering a Democrat-led impeachment inquiry against Trump.

The U.S. president was alleged to have pressed his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, into launching investigations that could politically benefit him. Furthermore, the White House allegedly tried to bury it.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who announced the impeachment inquiry last September, accused on Friday Senate Republicans of a "cover-up."

"There can be no acquittal without a trial. And there is no trial without witnesses, documents and evidence," the California Democrat said in a statement.

In a number of tweets on Friday, Trump claimed he's being treated unfairly during the impeachment process.

"No matter what you give to the Democrats, in the end, they will NEVER be satisfied," he tweeted. "In the House, they gave us NOTHING!"

According to the US Constitution, the House shall have the "sole Power of Impeachment," while the Senate shall have the "sole Power to try all Impeachments."

Conviction can only happen in the Senate and requires at least two-thirds of its members, or 67 senators, to vote in favor of at least one article of impeachment after a trial. Currently, the Senate has 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats and two independents. (UNI-Xinhua)