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Senate plans Wednesday vote to acquit Trump

Chamber adopts second organizing resolution to allow senators to have their say

Reporters watch the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump in the Senate Press Gallery in the Capitol on Friday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)
Reporters watch the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump in the Senate Press Gallery in the Capitol on Friday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 8 p.m. | The Senate is now expected to vote to acquit President Donald Trump on Wednesday, one day after the president delivers his State of the Union address to Congress.

After rejecting a move Friday night that would have allowed motions to introduce witnesses and documents to the impeachment proceeding, the two parties huddled to discuss next steps, eventually deciding on a second organizing resolution for the trial that takes it to a conclusion. 

That agreement also provided for four amendments from Democrats, which weren’t debated. 

Despite the organizing resolution being drafted in agreement with Democrats, the 53-47  vote was a strict party-line vote and came after Republicans blocked the minority’s four amendments that served as a last-ditch effort to hear from witnesses.

Prior to the votes, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., said that he would not partake in breaking ties.“I think it would be inappropriate for me, an unelected official from a different branch of government to assert the power to change that result so that the motion would succeed,” Roberts said.

The overall resolution closes the record in the impeachment trial and provides for the Senate to reconvene as the court of impeachment at 11 a.m. Monday for four hours of closing arguments, equally divided between the House managers and the president’s counsel.

After conclusion of those arguments, the court of impeachment will adjourn until 4 p.m. Wednesday. At that time, the Senate will vote on the two articles of impeachment without any intervening action or debate.

While the court of impeachment is adjourned Monday afternoon through Wednesday afternoon, the Senate will be in regular session. Senators will have the opportunity during that time to deliver floor statements explaining their positions on the two charges against Trump.

Eric Ueland, the White House legislative affairs director, said the president was fine with that timeline. “The president is gratified that finally, at long last, after multiple Senate sessions [that] his acquittal is possible,” Ueland said. “We do not believe that that schedule interferes with the ability to deliver a strong and confident State of the Union next week.”

“I’m not sure why Wednesday is better than Tuesday other than that’s State of the Union,” Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., said. “Obviously, that’s the only logical explanation.”

The White House had initially hoped for an acquittal before Trump travels to Capitol Hill for his televised address.

Asked if he’s satisfied with voting Wednesday, Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri  said, “I’d rather conclude it right away.”

The new schedule allows Democratic presidential contenders — Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Michael Bennet of Colorado — to spend the weekend campaigning, in advance of Monday’s Iowa caucuses.

Before adopting the second organizing resolution, the Senate rejected four Democratic amendments. 

On the first of those amendments, the Senate voted, 53-47, to table an amendment by Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer to subpoena former national security adviser John Bolton; acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney; Robert Blair, a senior adviser to Mulvaney; and Michael Duffey, a senior Office of Management and Budget official.

The amendment also would have subpoenaed documents from the White House, OMB and the State and Defense departments related to Trump’s decision to withhold military aid to Ukraine, an action that is at the heart of the abuse of power charge.

A Schumer amendment to just subpoena Bolton was also tabled, 51-49. Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, who said they wanted to hear Bolton’s testimony, voted with Democrats against tabling the amendment.

A third Schumer amendment to subpoena Bolton provided for a short process under which his testimony could be taken: one day for a deposition and one day for live testimony before the Senate to occur within five days of adopting the organizing resolution. The amendment was tabled, 51-49, with Collins and Romney again joining Democrats in voting against tabling.

Democrats’ fourth and final amendment, offered by Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen, would have required the chief justice to rule on motions to subpoena witnesses and documents and any assertions of privilege stemming from those subpoenas. The amendment was tabled, 53-47, along party lines.

Michael Macagnone and Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated when the Senate would go into regular session. 

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