When it became clear on Thursday night that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had the necessary votes to block the Democrat demand for additional witnesses in the impeachment trial, some hoped that the whole thing could be wrapped up the next day with a vote on whether to acquit or convict President Donald Trump.
That didn’t happen. In the wake of the witnesses vote, senators debated how to bring the trial to a conclusion, eventually reaching a bipartisan agreement to set the final vote for Wednesday evening next week.
“We’re going to get through hopefully a few amendment votes tonight and then get a resolution that would take us to a landing spot in the middle of next week. A lot of folks want to address the subject so that gives them a chance on Monday, Tuesday, and part of Wednesday to do that,” Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-SD) said, according to Politico.
Final vote postponed
Following two weeks of a trial in which the final outcome was already pretty much known before it began, Republicans — and likely even some Democrats — hoped that the final vote would quickly be held and the trial brought to a close so everyone could go on about their business.
Alas, that was not to be, as some senators complained about the potential for the consequential final vote being held in the dead of night and other senators — being politicians that love to hear themselves talk — demanded an opportunity to deliver a statement on the Senate floor prior to the final vote.
Negotiations ensued Friday afternoon between McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), as well as other party leaders, over how the trial would be brought to a conclusion. Eventually, a plan was devised and, after President Trump agreed to the terms, it was accepted by the rest of the Senate.
Terms of the agreement
Essentially, the bipartisan resolution placed the trial in recess for the weekend — allowing those Democrat senators running for office to hit the campaign trail ahead of the Iowa caucuses on Monday. The trial will resume on Monday morning, with House managers and the president’s defense team delivering their closing arguments over a four-hour period.
Once those closing remarks are finished, each senator will be offered a chance to deliver a short speech on the Senate floor throughout the remainder of Monday, part of Tuesday — prior to President Trump’s State of the Union address — and through Wednesday, with the final vote scheduled to take place around 4 p.m.
Not everybody is happy with the arrangement, particularly Republicans who wanted everything wrapped up quickly and didn’t want to wait until the middle of next week to finalize the seemingly inevitable acquittal.
Furthermore, there is some justifiable concern that, given the overt coordination between Democrats and the media, there is the possibility that the public will be bombarded with more conveniently-timed “bombshell” reports that might cause some senators to waver and fuel Democrat demands for more time, documents, and witnesses.
Meanwhile, plenty of Democrats expressed outrage at the failure of their effort to bring in more witnesses to provide testimony, a move that would have added several weeks, if not months, to the timeline of the trial as legal questions regarding executive immunities and privileges would have to be litigated in court.
In the end, it is still expected that President Trump will be acquitted in a final vote on Wednesday, the same as he would have been on Friday, as it remains all but impossible that 67 senators would vote to convict and remove Trump from office.
The only real question now? How many Democrat senators will acknowledge the weakness of the case presented by House managers and join with their Republican colleagues in a vote to acquit President Trump of the articles charged against him?