Will Trump be acquitted? Senate decides to vote against new witnesses and evidences

Trump has been busy with the reelection campaign

Speculations about the US President being acquitted next week has risen after the Senate on Friday voted against the calling of witnesses and collecting new evidence. The Republican-controlled Senate stopped the Democrats from presenting the evidence and witness with a vote of 51-49.

The vote meant that there would be no testimony from the important people who have first-hand knowledge about Donald Trump's efforts of pressurizing Ukraine to investigate the former Vice President Joe Biden. The actions by the President led the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives to charge him in December with the abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, making Trump the third president to be impeached in the US.

Trump continues to argue the Democrats are trying to start a coup against the president.

Senate's approval of party-line vote and closing arguments

US President Donald Trump
Donald Trump faces impeachment probe for allegedly pressuring Ukrainian President for investigating former Vice President Joe Biden White House Official Picture

The Senate approved on a party-line vote a timeline for the rest of the trial that calls for a final vote on the impeachment charges at 4 pm EST (2100 GMT) on Wednesday.

Closing arguments will begin at 11 am EST (1600 GMT) on Monday, with four hours split between the prosecution and defence. That will give the four Democratic senators who are running to be their party's presidential nominee time to get to Iowa for that night's first nominating contest.

In between the closing arguments and final vote, senators will have an opportunity to give speeches on the Senate floor, but the trial will not formally be in session. Trump will deliver his State of the Union speech to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night.

The Senate is almost certain to acquit Trump of the charges, as a two-thirds Senate majority is required to remove Trump and none of the chamber's 53 Republicans have indicated they will vote to convict.

Trump is busy with a reelection campaign

Trump is seeking re-election in the November 3 vote. Biden is a leading contender for the Democratic nomination to face him. In Friday's vote on witnesses, only two Republicans - Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, and Susan Collins, who faces a tough re-election in November in her home state of Maine - broke with their party and voted with Democrats.

"America will remember this day, unfortunately, where the Senate did not live up to its responsibilities, where the Senate turned away from the truth and went along with a sham trial," Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters.

After the first vote on calling witnesses, Schumer offered more amendments seeking to call witnesses and obtain more evidence, but the Senate rejected them all. Romney and Collins were again the only Republicans to support calling Bolton as a witness. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said the trial should end as soon as possible. "The cake is baked and we just need to move as soon as we can to get it behind us," he told reporters.

New details about the impeachment

Friday's vote on witnesses came hours after the New York Times reported new details from an unpublished book manuscript written by Bolton in which the former aide said Trump directed him in May to help in a pressure campaign to get Ukraine to pursue investigations that would benefit Trump politically.

Bolton wrote that Trump told him to call Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to ensure Zelenskiy would meet with Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, a key player in the campaign, the Times reported. Robert Costello, a lawyer for Giuliani, called the Times report "categorically untrue." Bolton's lawyer and a spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

The Times previously reported that Bolton - contradicting Trump's version of events - wrote the president told him he wanted to freeze $391 million in security aid to Ukraine until Kyiv pursued investigations of Democrats, including Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.

Democrats had said the news illustrated the need for the Senate to put Bolton under oath. But Republicans said they had heard enough. Some said they did not think that Trump did anything wrong, while Senators Lamar Alexander and Rob Portman said his actions were wrong but did not amount to impeachable conduct. Senator Marco Rubio said impeachment would be too divisive for the country, even if a president engaged in an impeachable activity.

Lisa Murkowski, a Republican moderate who Democrats had hoped would vote with them to extend the trial, said the case against Trump was rushed and flawed. She told reporters she was "angry at all sides" and the prospect of a tie vote on witnesses weighed heavily on her decision. After the Senate adjourned on Friday, she said she knew how she would vote on the charges but she would not reveal it yet.

"Will I share it with you tonight? I've had so much drama today, I'm just going to chill. How's that? Was that fair?" Murkowski told reporters.

(With inputs from agency)