Trump impeachment: US Senate will not hear witness testimony

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www.dw.com-The US Senate voted against hearing additional testimony from witnesses in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. The Republican-dominated body is set to decide on the US president’s acquittal in the final vote next week.

The trial against US President Donald Trump in the US Senate will not feature witnesses or new evidence, lawmakers in the Republican-majority chamber decided on Friday.

Out of 100 senators, 51 voted against compelling witness testimony and issuing subpoenas for documents. The outcome is a major blow for the Democrats, despite two Republicans — Mitt Romney and Susan Collins — breaking party ranks and voting with the rival camp on Friday.

The Democratic Party proponents of impeachment were pushing for the testimony of former national security adviser John Bolton, who claims to have new information about dealings between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Bolton previously said he was willing to testify.

White House wants Bolton to censor upcoming book

In the unpublished manuscript for an upcoming book, Bolton claimed that Trump had told him that he wanted to freeze nearly $400 million (€360 million) in Congress-approved aid to Ukraine until the government there announced plans to investigate the president’s political rivals, according to The New York Times. Bolton also says Trump told him to call Zelenskiy and persuade him to meet with Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Trump categorically denied  the claims, saying that he “never instructed John Bolton to set up a meeting for Rudy Giuliani.”

On Thursday, the White House asked Bolton to censor parts of his manuscript, claiming it contained “classified information.”

Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, who serves as the chief prosecutor for the purposes of the impeachment trial, said that information rejected by Republican lawmakers would come out anyway.

“The witnesses the president is concealing will tell their stories. And we will be asked why we didn’t want to hear that information when we had the chance. What answer shall we give if we do not pursue the truth now?” he said on Friday.

The Republicans, however, argue that enough evidence was presented during impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of US Congress.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio said voting to remove Trump “would inflict extraordinary and potentially irreparable damage” to the US.

“Just because actions meet a standard of impeachment does not mean it is in the best interest of the country to remove a President from office,” he said.

Republicans expected to clear Trump

The US president is accused of pressuring Zelenskiy to investigate former US Vice President and potential 2020 election rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter and then withheld Congress-approved aid to Ukraine pending an announcement of that probe.

Lawmakers in the House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump in December, charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. He is only the third president in the US history to be impeached, following Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998, both of whom were eventually acquitted. In 1974, Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached by the House.

Trump is virtually guaranteed to be cleared of any wrongdoing over his dealings with Ukraine, as the impeachment bid needs a two-thirds majority to oust a sitting US president from office.

Following the Friday vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the chamber would “prepare to conclude the trial in the coming days.” Later on Friday, the chamber passed a resolution that set the final impeachment vote for Wednesday.

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