The U.S. Senate rejected a measure to call witnesses in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial Friday with a 51-49 vote that all but ensures he will be acquitted on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The vote saw two Republicans join with Democrats in their desire to hear from more witnesses. Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah voted along with the Democrats for witnesses and documents to be allowed to be subpoenaed.
The Senate went into a recess following the vote, allowing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, to hammer out a deal about how the rest of the trial will be conducted.
The result was an agreement by McConnell to allow Schumer to introduce four amendments to the motion. McConnell, in turn, would table Schumer’s amendments with a yea or nay vote deciding if they were adopted.
All four amendments failed, and the Senate was adjourned until Monday at 11 a.m. for closing arguments in the trial.
The final vote on the articles of impeachment is set for 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
Live updates begin below.
McConnell’s motion passes
7:54 p.m. ET Jan. 31, 2020: McConnell’s motion has passed. McConnell asks that statements made by senators on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday be included in the record.
The Senate is adjourned and will reconvene on Monday at 11 a.m.
The motion is being voted on
7:50 p.m. ET Jan. 31, 2020: The motion McConnell introduced to outline the remaining portion of the trial is being voted on now.
The fourth amendment is introduced
7:44 p.m. ET Jan. 31, 2020: The fourth amendment is asking the chief justice to rule on certain issues, despite the fact that Roberts just said he would not break a tie vote.
McConnell tables the amendment and it fails.
The third amendment is introduced
7:32 p.m. Jan. 31, 2020: Schumer asks to subpoena Bolton again, but this time with time limits of one day for deposition and one day for Bolton’s live testimony.
The second amendment fails
7:30 p.m. ET Jan. 31, 2020: The second amendment is tabled and it fails on a 51-49 vote. Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Mitt Romney vote with the Democrats.
The amendment fails
7:27 p.m. ET Jan. 31, 2020: The first amendment fails. The second amendment Schumer introduces is to subpoena John Bolton.
McConnell tables the amendment and the Senate is voting again.
The first amendment
7:20 p.m. ET Jan. 31, 2020: McConnell introduces the motion outlining how the trial will go. The motion allows for four amendments and McConnell reserves the right to table the amendments.
Before Schumer introduces the amendment, he asks Chief Justice John Roberts if he is aware that in Andrew Johnson’s impeachment trial the chief justice broke two ties in floor votes.
Roberts said he was aware of that, but that he would not insert himself into the process by breaking a tie vote.
Schumer’s first amendment is to subpoena witnesses.
What will happen tonight
6:49 p.m. ET Jan. 31, 2020: The Senate is expected to be called back into session around 7 p.m. At that time, McConnell will introduce a motion to bring the trial to an end.
Democrats will then have the opportunity to offer four amendments. Senators will be allowed up to two hours to debate each amendment.
After each amendment is debated, a vote will be taken. Those votes are likely to fall along party lines, failing because Republicans have a majority in the Senate.
After the amendments are voted on, the Senate will be recessed. It will reconvene on Monday at 11 a.m.
Here’s the plan
6:29 p.m. ET Jan. 31, 2020: CNN is reporting that Democrats will introduce amendments Friday night in advance of the Senate adjourning for the weekend.
On Monday, closing arguments will be presented in the Senate. On Tuesday and early Wednesday, there will be speeches from the Senate floor.
On Wednesday afternoon, there will be a vote on the articles of impeachment.
Hillary Clinton weighs in
The Senate is in recess
5:43 p.m. ET Jan. 31, 2020: Following the vote, the Senate is in recess. It is not clear as to when the body will reconvene to take up the vote on the articles of impeachment.
Witnesses voted down
5:41 p.m. ET Jan. 31, 2020: The Senate has voted down a resolution to allow motions to allow subpoenaing witnesses and documents. The vote was 51-49 with Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romeny and Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins breaking with their party and voting with the Democrats for more witnesses.
The Senate is back in session
5:36 p.m. ET Jan. 31, 2020: The Senate is now voting on witnesses and documents. After the vote the Senate will adjourn, McConnell says.
The discussions are continuing
A break, for now
4:37 p.m. ET Jan. 31, 2020: The Senate takes a break, apparently trying to figure out what they will do next. The assumption was that a vote on witnesses was to come next, but for some reason, that is not happening yet.
The president’s counsel makes it short
4:08 p.m. ET Jan. 31, 2020: Patrick Philbin, deputy White House counsel, argues that the House has called 18 witnesses and should not be asking for more witnesses because they presented an incomplete case on which the Senate was expected to deliberate.
Philbin asked if House managers presented 2,800 pages for their case and proclaimed that it was complete, why do they need more witnesses?
Jay Sekulow then takes over the argument, listing all of the witnesses called during the House investigation and saying that the president’s attorneys did not have a chance to cross-examine those witnesses and that would have to happen if witnesses are to be allowed in the Senate trial.
There is no way, Sekulow said, that those cross-examinations could take place in a week -- something House managers have dangled as a compromise to allow witnesses in.
Sekulow then yields back nearly all of the two hours the president’s attorneys had to argue against witnesses.
What House managers said
4 p.m. ET Jan. 31, 2020: The Senate reconvened at 1 p.m. to begin arguments on a resolution to call witnesses and allow documents to be introduced into the record.
Lead House impeachment manager, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, and the other House managers made the argument in favor of calling witnesses in light of a New York Times story published Friday. The story reports on a portion of John Bolton’s book that relates a May 2019 meeting during which Trump told Bolton to help with the pressure campaign on Ukraine.
Schiff named the people whom Bolton said were in the room when Trump asked him to help, named Pat Cipollone, one of the president’s defense attorneys in the impeachment trial.
Schiff went on to say that not calling witnesses will “effectively nullify” Congress’s role in impeaching a president.
“Our government is no longer a government with three co-equal branches,” Schiff said. “The president ... for all intents and purposes, becomes above the law.”
Is a deal in the works?
3:55 p.m. ET Jan. 31, 2020: Some news organizations are reporting that a deal is being worked on that would move the vote on whether to impeach and remove Trump would now be held on Wednesday.
During what was to be a 15-minute break – it ended up being nearly an hour – Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, reportedly spoke about the schedule for the rest of the trial.
However, Schumer denied there was any agreement for any schedule and refused to answer questions from reporters.
NBC is reporting that McConnell and Schumer to recess the trial Saturday and Sunday, reconvene on Monday and meet through Wednesday when a vote would be taken.
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