In a surprising move on Friday, the Senate voted 51-49 to block new witnesses in the Trump’s impeachment trial, narrowly avoiding an unprecedented tie. As was reported earlier, Republicans didn’t have enough votes to proceed with no additional witnesses when a few Senators had weighed in on the importance of hearing testimony from John Bolton and others. However, as impeachment saga unfolded, two Senators, Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), announced that they wouldn’t defect from the party, turning the trial to an ending phase. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) joined the Democrats, voting in favor of the motion to call new witnesses.
“A majority of the U.S. Senate has determined that the numerous witnesses and 28,000-plus pages of documents already in evidence are sufficient to judge the House Managers’ accusations and end this impeachment trial,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) at the conclusion of the vote.
Democrats decried this decision after their final attempt to secure witnesses and extend the trial failed. “America will remember this day, unfortunately, where the Senate did not live up to the responsibilities, where the Senate turned away from truth and went along with a sham trial,” responded Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). He lamented over the decision to vote against calling additional witnesses, calling it a “grand tragedy.” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) echoed Minority Leader and said that Republicans engaged in a cover-up for the President. The vote also prompted a fiery response from protestors who gathered outside of the Capitol Friday night, as the Hill reported. They were chanting “Shame! Shame!” and demanding Trump’s removal from office.
Shortly after, the Senate voted on the resolution that sets a timeline of the trial. The resolution was passed strictly along party lines, 53-47. The Senate will reconvene on Monday for closing arguments from impeachment managers and Trump’s legal team. The final vote on the impeachment articles will take place on Wednesday, giving Senators enough time to explain their vote.