Trump impeachment trial day 11: All the latest updates

Trump impeachment trial may end soon as Senate blocks efforts to call new witnesses.

The impeachment trial of US President Donald Trump may be nearing its end after the Senate voted to reject calling new witnesses. 

There was early on some disagreement, however, about when the trial will come to an end. By Friday night, however, the final votes were set for Wednesday afternoon. 

As the trial rounds out its 11th day, here are all the latest updates as of Friday, January 31:

Senate adjourns

The Senate trial has adjourned until Monday. 

Senate sets final vote on Trump impeachment charges for Wednesday 

The final votes on the articles of impeachment will take place on Wednesday at 4pm (21:00 GMT). 

McConnell presents motion on next steps 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell presented a resolution that laid out the final phase of the trial. 

According to the resolution, closing arguments would take place on Monday, with a vote on impeachment on Wednesday. 

That means if the resolution is adopted, Trump will give his State of the Union address while still technically on trial. 

Senate blocks witnesses 

The Senate has rejected calling witnesses in Trump impeachment trial.

The vote was 51-49 to block witnesses. Two Republicans – Mitt Romney and Susan Collins – voted with the Democrats in favour of witnesses. 

Senate now voting on question of witnesses

After the vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate will stand in recess. 

Parnas lawyer sends letter to McConnell outlining his testimony

The lawyer for Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump’s personal lawyer who worked on efforts in Ukraine, has sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in a last-ditch effort to be called as a witness in the impeachment trial. 

Parnas would testify that he worked on behalf of Rudy Giuliani and “that the president and a number of the people in his administration and the GOP were aware of the demands being imposed upon Ukraine”, according to a letter submitted by Parnas’s lawyer, Joseph Bondy.

Philbin: Calls for new evidence used to ‘disguise’ weak case

Trump defence lawyer Patrick Philbin, beginning the arguments against allowing new evidence, including witnesses, into the trial, said that calls for new evidence were being used to disguise “defective” articles of impeachment. 

Philbin told senators the question of introducing new documents and witnesses is a “trope being used to disguise the real issues, the real decisions you’d be making”.

He said new evidence is not relevant because “these articles of impeachment on their face are defective”.

Giuliani denies new Bolton report

The president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has denied newly reported revelations in a draft of former National Security Advisor John Bolton’s unpublished book. 

Bolton details a May meeting in which Trump instructed him to call the newly-elected president of Ukraine to ensure a meeting with Giuliani so the president’s lawyer could push for politically motivated investigations, according to the New York Times. Bolton’s account says Giuliani, White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and the lead of Trump’s impeachment defence, Pat Cipollone, were all present for the exchange.

“The meeting the Times describes is a lie,” Giuliani tweeted. “If Bolton is the source and he believed this was so bad, why didn’t he quit? How much integrity and honor will a man sacrifice for greed and revenge?”

Schumer denies report he and McConnell agreed on end of trial schedule

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has denied reports that he and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had agreed on a resolution that would see a final vote on Wednesday of next week. 

“We are going to use whatever power we have to prevent [the vote] from being rushed through,” said Schumer. “But right now there is no agreement.”

Schiff concludes argument for witnesses

Lead House manager Adam Schiff, in his closing arguments in favour of allowing witnesses in the trial, said “a trial without witnesses is no trial at all”.

He told senators: “You know as well as we, that there are others you should hear from.”

Trump impeachment
Schiff speaks during a debate ahead of a vote on calling witnesses during the impeachment trial against Trump [File: Senate TV/AP Photo]

McConnell, Schumer agree to Wednesday acquittal vote: Report

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have agreed to a proposal that would lead to Wednesday vote on acquittal, an NBC correspondent reported on Twitter, citing two Democrat and two Republican sources. 

Kelly: Impeachment trial without witnesses ‘job only half done’

John Kelly, President Donald Trump’s former chief of staff, has again commented on the ongoing impeachment proceedings, saying a trial without witnesses is “a job only half done”. 

Kelly, in an interview with New Jersey Advance Media, also said if there are no witnesses in the trial “you open yourself up forever as a Senate that shirks its responsibilities”.

Kelly had previously said he believed revelations in former NSA Bolton’s draft book. “If John Bolton says that in the book I believe John Bolton,” Kelly said during a lecture in Sarasota, Florida. 

Vote on acquittal could be put off until next week

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is considering passing a resolution that would structure the end of the impeachment trial, with a final vote on whether the president will be removed from office as late as Wednesday, according to US media. 

The resolution may include a period that allows senators to voice their views on the floor in an open session, CNN reported.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is reportedly considering a measure that would delay final vote in impeachment trial [Steve Helber/The Associated Press]

Murkowski: House articles of impeachment ‘rushed and flawed’

Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, whose announcement that she will vote “no” on allowing new evidence in the trial has scuttled Democrats hopes, said she made her decision because the articles of impeachment sent by the House to the Senate were “rushed and flawed”. 

“I carefully considered the need for additional witnesses and documents, to cure the shortcomings of its [the House’s] process, but ultimately decided I will vote against considering motions to subpoena,” Murkowski said in a statement. 

“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,” she added. “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.”

Closely-watched Republican Murkowski says she will vote ‘no’ on witnesses

Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who could potentially have been the tying vote in the upcoming vote on allowing new witnesses, has said she will vote “no” on Friday. 

The announcement largely scuttles Democrats’ hopes of introducing new evidence in the impeachment trial of President Trump, including testimony from former NSA Bolton. 

The announcement leaves just two of the 53 Republicans in the Senate planning to vote for more witnesses, giving Republicans a simple majority for a “no” vote. 

Trump impeachment
Senator Lisa Murkowski has said she will vote “no” on witnesses [File: Patrick Semansky/The Associated Press]

Schiff begins debate on witnesses referencing new Bolton report

Lead House manager Adam Schiff began Friday’s proceedings by referencing a report, in a draft of a new book, former NSA John Bolton details a May 2018 meeting in which the president instructed him to help in a pressure campaign against Ukraine in pursuit of political investigations.

Schiff pointed out that the New York Times reported on Friday that the lead of President Trump’s defence team, Pat Cipollone, was among the officials in the meeting described in Bolton’s manuscript. 

“There’s a new fact that indicates that Mr Cipollone was among those who were in the loop,” said Schiff. “Just another reason why we need to hear from witnesses.”

He added: “The facts will continue to come out.”

Tlaib urges Murkowski to vote for witnesses

Democratic Representative Rashida Tlaib, in a tweet on Friday, urged Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski to vote to allow witnesses in the trial. 

Murkowski is one of the four Republicans considered open to breaking from party ranks in voting to allow more witnesses. So far, Senators Susan Collins and Mitt Romney have said they will vote in favour of allowing witnesses, while Senator Lamar Alexander has said he will vote against. 

“Read the transcript of the call and the testimony of those who testified before the House Intelligence Committee. Your notes aren’t enough,” tweeted Tlaib with an article on Murkowski, who said she will make up her mind on witnesses on Friday. 

Nadler to miss end of trial to be with ill wife

Jerrold Nadler, a House manager and chairman of the chamber’s judiciary committee, has said he will miss the remainder of the impeachment trial to be with his wife, who has pancreatic cancer. 

“I am sorry to not be able to stay in Washington for the conclusion of the Senate impeachment trial but I need to be home with my wife at this time. We have many decisions to make as a family,” wrote Nadler.

“I have every faith in my colleagues and hope the Senate will do what is right,” he added. 

Bolton book ‘says’ Trump asked him to help in Ukraine pressure campaign

President Trump asked then-NSA John Bolton to help in a pressure campaign on Ukraine to extract politically damaging information on Democrats in May of 2018, Bolton wrote in a draft of his upcoming book, the New York Times reported on Friday.

Trump told Bolton to call Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to ensure that the newly elected president would meet with Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who was at the time planning a trip to Kyiv to push for the investigations, Bolton’s manuscript recounts, according to the newspaper. 

The president gave the command during a meeting that included Giuliani, White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and White House lawyer Pat Cipollone, who is leading the president’s impeachment defence team. 

John Bolton
Revelations in a draft of former National Security Advisor John Bolton book have renewed calls for him to testify [File: Luis M Alvarez/The Associated Press]

The meeting reportedly detailed by Bolton is the earliest known evidence of Trump’s involvement in using the government to push for his own political interest in Ukraine, and, if accurate, shows that top Trump officials had early knowledge of the campaign. 

Schumer: ‘Disturbing’ some Republicans won’t vote for witnesses

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he found it “disturbing” that some closely watched Republicans have said they will not vote for witnesses in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, but added the results of a vote is still an “open question”. 

If witnesses are not allowed “this country is headed towards the greatest cover-up since Watergate”, Schumer said, referencing the scandal that led to the resignation of former President Richard Nixon. 

The vote on new evidence will be the difference between “seeking the truth or covering it up, between a fair trial and a farce, between country and party”, Schumer said.

Romney to vote for witnesses

Republican US Senator Mitt Romney will vote in favour of allowing witnesses to testify, his spokeswoman said.

Romney had previously been the only Republican senator to say he wanted to hear testimony from former NSA John Bolton – one of the four witnesses requested previously by Democrats. Republican Susan Collins, on Thursday, said in a tweet that she would also vote for witnesses.

Pompeo visits Ukraine, addresses aid at heart of impeachment trial

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo became the highest-ranking US official to visit Ukraine since the impeachment process began last year and addressed the military aid at the heart of the impeachment inquiry on Friday.

“The support that this administration has provided, and we talk about the assistance, that’s important, it’s certainly helpful for the Ukrainian people and it makes the difference for [the] United States as well, and to our benefits as well,” Pompeo said at a news conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

pompeo ukraine
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Ukraine during the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump [Efrem Lukatsky/The Associated Press]

“But what really matters is the relationship that’s developing between the two counties, politically and diplomatically, commercially and economically,” he added.

Witness math? 

Democrats were served a significant blow on Thursday after Republican Senator Lamar Alexander, considered a possible and key swing vote, said he would not vote to hear from new witnesses.

“I worked with other senators to make sure that we have the right to ask for more documents and witnesses, but there is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven and that does not meet the U.S. Constitution’s high bar for an impeachable offense,” Alexander tweeted.

On Wednesday, Senators Martha McSally and Cory Gardner, Republicans facing re-election in swing states, also said they would not vote for more witnesses.

Only three Republicans appear to be possible swing votes at this point, with only two having explicitly said they support hearing from new witnesses. If all three vote with Democrats, it would create a 50-50 tie. If Chief Justice John Roberts does not intervene to break the tie, the vote would fail to meet the majority needed to call more witnesses.

Who is on Trump’s defence team?

Read more about the key players in the impeachment trial of President Trump here.

Interactive - Trump impeachment

Who are the House managers? 

Seven Democratic House managers presented the case for removing President Trump from office.

Interactive - Trump impeachment managers

What happened during the Q and A? 

With Democrats largely posing questions to House managers and Republicans largely posing questions to Trump’s defence, the questions period of the trial spanning Wednesday and Thursday largely gave both sides the chance to shore up their arguments and rebut their opponents.

In one particularly noteworthy moment on Wednesday, Trump lawyer Alan Dershowitz appeared to argue that a president could not be impeached for soliciting help in re-election from a foreign government if the president believed their re-election was in the public interest. Dershowitz later refined the much-pilloried argument on Twitter, claiming his words were mischaracterised. Read more about Wednesday’s proceedings here.

On Thursday, Chief Justice John Roberts refused to read a question from Republican Senator Rand Paul that included the name of a person that right-wing media have accused of being the whistle-blower. Paul denied the question was meant to out the whistle-blower. Read more about Thursday’s proceedings here.

This artist sketch depicts White House counsel Pat Cipollone speaking in the Senate chamber during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump [File: Dana Verkouteren/AP Photo]

Catch up on what happened since the start of the trial

As the 11th day of the impeachment trial begins, catch up on what has happened over the last two weeks.

The trial officially began with a ceremonial start on January 16 that saw the swearing-in of Chief Justice Roberts, who is presiding over the proceedings, and the 100 members of the Senate.

The next week began with nearly 12 hours of debate culminating in senators voting along partisan lines to approve Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s rules resolution. Meanwhile, 11 amendments introduced by Democrats were blocked. Read more about that day here.

The Democratic House managers then presented their arguments for three days on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, followed by Trump’s defence arguments on Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies