- The Washington Times - Friday, January 31, 2020

Senators defeated a last-ditch effort by Democrats to call witnesses in the impeachment trial of President Trump Friday evening, then approved a final schedule that will force a vote Wednesday on Mr. Trump’s fate.

That means the president will deliver his State of the Union address Tuesday while still under the cloud of impeachment, but will almost certainly be acquitted the next day.

In a series of votes, Republicans blocked Sen. Charles E. Schumer’s attempt to get former National Security Adviser John R. Bolton to testify. The GOP also shot down an attempt by Democrats to outsource all witness decisions to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who has been presiding over the trial but not playing an active role in decision.

After defeating those motions, the Senate adopted its final schedule on a 53-47 vote.

Under the new rules, the chamber has adjourned until Monday, when it will return to hear final arguments from the House Democrats prosecuting the case, and from the president’s defense team.

The trial will then take a break Tuesday, giving Mr. Trump space to deliver his speech from the House chamber that night. Then the trial will reconvene Wednesday at 4 p.m., when a final vote on both articles of impeachment will occur.

The GOP believes it has the votes to acquit Mr. Trump, and may even pick up support from Democrat or two.

The president’s team welcomed Friday’s agreement.

“The president is gratified,” said Eric Ueland, the White House liaison to Congress. “We do not believe that that schedule interferes with his ability to deliver strong and confident State of the Union in the House of Representatives.”

Democrats said the acquittal will forever have an asterisk next to it because the trial didn’t have any witnesses — the first time that’s happened in a Senate impeachment proceeding.

“To not allow witnesses or documents in an impeachment trial is a grand tragedy, one of the worst tragedies that the Senate has ever overcome,” Mr. Schumer said after losing the votes.

“America will remember this day — a day when the United Senate did not live up to its responsibilities, turned away from truth and instead went along with a sham trial,” he said.

But Republicans said the sham occurred in the House, where Democrats impeached Mr. Trump on a partisan vote without allowing his defense team the chance to call its own witnesses or to confront Democrats’ witnesses during the bulk of the impeachment inquiry.

GOP senators said prolonging the trial by having the Senate fix Democrats’ bungles would be divisive to the country, and would set a precedent for future House impeachments.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

• Gabriella Muñoz can be reached at gmunoz@washingtontimes.com.

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