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Impeachment news roundup: Feb. 4

Collins says she will vote to acquit Trump on both articles

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, arrives for the Senate Republicans’ lunch in the Capitol before the start of Senate impeachment trial session on Jan. 23, 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, arrives for the Senate Republicans’ lunch in the Capitol before the start of Senate impeachment trial session on Jan. 23, 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 4:3o p.m.

Senators are taking to the Senate floor to explain their vote on President Donald Trump’s impeachment Tuesday and others will get their turn until they cast it Wednesday afternoon.

Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski said even though Trump’s actions were “shameful and wrong,” she would vote to acquit him. Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins said Tuesday that she will also vote to acquit Trump on both articles of impeachment.

“I do not believe that the House has met its burden of showing that the president’s conduct, however flawed, warrants the extreme step of immediate removal from office,” Collins said.

[View from the gallery: Senators pack up desks as impeachment trial nears its end]

Murkowski was critical of the House’s investigation, but she had some harsh words for her colleagues, too, saying the Senate “should be ashamed by the rank partisanship on display here.”

The spotlight is particularly bright on moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin III and Doug Jones, of Alabama, who have not yet said which way they will vote.

West Virginia’s Manchin said he believes there is a bipartisan majority that would condemn the president’s actions and urged his colleagues to censure the president.

But that idea has been rejected by some Republicans, including Sen. Roy Blunt, who told reporters it is “too late” to censure Trump.

Asked if he’s floating censure as a way to mitigate his potential acquittal vote, Manchin said, “I don’t know. I’ve never heard that scenario before.”

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Here is the latest on impeachment:

4:20 p.m. | Bolton subpoena: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said it is “a possibility” that the House may subpoena former National Security Advisor John Bolton.

“I’m sure we’ll discuss it with the leadership, whether it will bear any fruit,” the Maryland Democrat said. “But we have a continuing responsibility of oversight. Bolton has said he had information that we ought to have. I frankly think a lot of other information is going to come out along the way. And I don’t think ignoring it is clearly the option.”

Hoyer said he doesn’t think the Senate vote to acquit Trump will be bipartisan. “I hope not,” he said, adding that Republican senators who have decided Trump’s actions don’t rise to the level of an impeachable offense “are wrong.”

2:45 p.m. | FISA abuse: Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson said he is still committed to getting to the bottom of meetings at the White House in 2016 involving Obama administration officials, Ukrainian government representatives and Democratic National Committee officials.

A request he and Senate Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley sent to the National Archives and Records Administration for records of those meetings apparently produced thousands of pages of responsive documents, which will have to go through a classification review and receive agreement from Obama and his counsel before they can be released, the Wisconsin Republican said.

Johnson said his panel is also looking into FISA abuse and various other matters related to 2016.

“My chairmanship ends on this committee this year so I want to complete as much of this as possible,” he said. “If we retain the majority, I’ll be chairman of PSI and we’ll continue.”

2:35 p.m. | Whistleblower: Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr said an investigation that his panel started several months ago into the whistleblower that was suspended for impeachment will soon resume.

“Now we’re going to finish it up,” the North Carolina Republican said.

Asked if his goal is to reform the whistleblower process, Burr said, “If we find that something didn’t proceed like it was designed to.”

12:19 p.m. | Naming names: Sen. Rand Paul read aloud on the Senate floor the question about the impeachment case that Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. refused to read during the question and answer period last week.

Paul’s question identified the alleged whistleblower whose complaint sparked the impeachment inquiry.

11:36 a.m. | Advice for Trump: A number of Republicans have expressed hope that Trump doesn’t bring up impeachment when he delivers his State of the Union speech tonight.

7 a.m. | Not yet counted: Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy said he has had conversations with moderate members of his who are caucus who are considering voting to acquit.

“I don’t know that it’s lobbying, but we’re spending a lot of time together, so you can’t help but have lots of conversations with your colleagues about the consequences of the president’s actions and the votes we’re about to take,” he said.

Alabama Democrat Doug Jones, considered the most vulnerable senator up for reelection this year, and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have not yet said how they will vote. Nor have Republicans Susan Collins and Mitt Romney, who both voted with Democrats to hear more witnesses in the trial.

6:40 a.m. | More from the floor: In his floor speech, Manchin said the Senate “was shortchanged” by not hearing from witnesses.

“History will judge the Senate harshly,” he said of how the trail was handled.

He called the House managers’ case “strong,” and said they effectively showed “what the president did was wrong.”

Murkowski said she voted against hearing from witnesses because it could have left it up to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. to decide.

“What started with political initiatives that degraded the office of the president and left the Congress wallowing in partisan mud threatened to drag the last remaining branch of government down along with us,” she said.

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6:30 a.m. | Resting their case: The House impeachment managers and Trump’s defense team closed their arguments Monday afternoon before senators got their time on the floor. The impeachment court will reconvene for its vote at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Lead manager Adam B. Schiff challenged senators to “find the courage to stand up to [Trump], to speak the awful truth to his rank falsehood.

The White House’s team continued its theme that impeachment is about overturning Trump’s election and that they should “leave it to the voters” to decide.

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