After taking over a month to get started, President Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial looks to be nearly over, thanks to the strategic leadership of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Late Friday, McConnell secured enough votes to block a Democrat attempt to call additional witnesses, which would likely have lengthened the Senate trial by several weeks. While the exact timeline for the remainder of the trial is still uncertain, an acquittal is expected very soon.
Republicans win on witnesses
One of the votes that McConnell secured at the last moment was Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander, who announced his position in a statement late Thursday night.
“There is no need for more evidence to conclude that the president withheld United States aid, at least in part, to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens; the House managers have proved this with what they call a ‘mountain of overwhelming evidence,'” Alexander said.
“I believe that the Constitution provides that the people should make that decision in the presidential election that begins in Iowa on Monday,” the long-time senator added.
Moderate Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) also decided against voting to allow witnesses, leaving just two Republicans to vote with the Democrats: Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME).
Ultimately, the Democrats’ push to call new witnesses failed in a Senate vote taken late Friday, with a nearly-party line split of 51-49.
“We’ve heard all the evidence”
Other Republicans also spoke out to explain their vote.
“On Friday, I’m going to vote that we don’t need any more witnesses with 17 witnesses in the House, we’ve heard all the evidence. The House Managers have failed,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) told Fox News personality Sean Hannity. What’s more, Cruz offered a spirited defense of Trump.
“I will tell you why he should be acquitted and why he will be acquitted,” Cruz said. “Quid pro quo doesn’t matter, it’s a red herring. It doesn’t matter if there was a quid pro quo or not.”
“The reason is a president is always justified and in fact has a responsibility to investigate credible evidence of corruption,” Cruz concluded.
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) also sounds eager to wrap things up, telling the Washington Examiner, “I don’t think there is anything more that needs to be said.”