Impeachment trial of President Trump

By Meg Wagner, Fernando Alfonso III and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 8:59 PM ET, Fri January 31, 2020
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2:14 p.m. ET, January 31, 2020

Former White House chief of staff: With no witnesses, Senate trial is "a job only half done"

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

Kamran Jebreili/AP
Kamran Jebreili/AP

Former White House chief of staff John Kelly is weighing in again on impeachment, now saying if there are no witnesses — which seems almost all but certain — that "it’s a job only half done." 

"If I was advising the United States Senate, I would say, 'If you don’t respond to 75 percent of the American voters and have witnesses, it’s a job only half done,” Kelly said today in an interview with a New Jersey newspaper. “You open yourself up forever as a Senate that shirks its responsibilities.”

 Kelly described Bolton as “a copious note taker."

Earlier this week: Kelly said he believes John Bolton' allegation that President Trump told the former national security adviser that US security aid to Ukraine was conditioned on an investigation of the President's political rivals, adding that Bolton should be heard from.

"If John Bolton says that in the book I believe John Bolton," Kelly said Monday night when asked about the leaked draft manuscript during remarks at the Ringling College Library Association Town Hall lecture series, according to the Herald Tribune of Sarasota, Florida.

Kelly said Bolton "always gave the President the unvarnished truth" and is a "man of integrity and great character."

2:01 p.m. ET, January 31, 2020

Final vote on acquittal could wait until next week

From CNN's Phil Mattingly, Dana Bash, Ted Barrett and Manu Raju

Julio Cortez/AP
Julio Cortez/AP

The final vote to acquit President Trump may be delayed until next week, according to GOP and Democratic sources. 

At this point, it seems unlikely that a final vote to acquit Trump will occur tonight, but things remain extremely fluid.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is considering offering a resolution that would structure the final stages of the trial, which could include a final vote as late as Wednesday of next week. This could change because a source familiar says the White House is pushing for a final vote Tuesday — the same day as the State of the Union.

Asked when the final vote would be, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin said: "Wednesday of next week. That's what McConnell is proposing."

The resolution may set up a process that would allow senators to speak about their views on the floor in an open session. Senators who have not spoken on the floor for days are eager to get a chance to speak.

More on the trial schedule: There's serious discussion that the Senate will NOT be in session this weekend and the chamber would return Monday to finish up the process, which would include closing arguments from both sides.

This could and is designed — at least in part — to spur talks between McConnell and Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. 

1:56 p.m. ET, January 31, 2020

Republican senators on why they don't want to hear from more witnesses

From CNN's Haley Byrd

Sen. Tim Scott arrives at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, January 30.
Sen. Tim Scott arrives at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, January 30. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Before the impeachment trial gaveled back in this afternoon, Sen. Tim Scott discussed John Bolton’s allegations and why he will vote to acquit President Trump.

“The truth is that you’ve got three firsthand folks who say that there was no quid pro quo, and you have one person who disagrees with that,” the South Carolina Republican said. "The question is the weight of the credibility of each version. So you’re going to tell me that Bolton, because people want that to be the conclusion, has more weight than three other individuals. I say that’s absolutely not.”

And Sen. Shelley Moore Capito argued Democrats didn’t have overwhelming evidence, and they undermined their argument by asking for more witnesses. 

“I just don’t think they had a strong enough case from the beginning, because they weren’t thorough. They didn’t take the time, and the evidence just didn’t bear that out,” she said.
1:45 p.m. ET, January 31, 2020

Sen. Rob Portman is a “no” on witnesses  

From CNN's Ted Barrett

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Sen. Rob Portman, another potential swing vote, said he will vote "no" on witnesses today.

The Republican from Ohio said in a statement: “I do not believe that additional witnesses are needed." 

Portman continued: "I have said consistently for the past four months, since the Zelensky transcript was first released, that I believe that some of the President’s actions in this case – including asking a foreign country to investigate a potential political opponent and the delay of aid to Ukraine – were wrong and inappropriate. But I do not believe that the President’s actions rise to the level of removing a duly-elected president from office and taking him off the ballot in the middle of an election."

Why this matters: The Senate needs 51 votes to approve a motion to have witnesses. If all 47 senators who caucus with the Democrats vote for witnesses, at least four Republicans would need to join them to pass a motion.

1:38 p.m. ET, January 31, 2020

Here's Sen. Murkowski's statement on her no vote

Julio Cortez/AP
Julio Cortez/AP

GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who just announced she'd vote no for witnesses and documents at the impeachment trial, has released a statement on her rationale.

Murkowski was one of four key senators we had been watching. She and Sen. Lamar Alexander said they will vote no, while Sens. Susan Collins and Mitt Romney will vote yes.

Here's her full statement:

“I worked for a fair, honest, and transparent process, modeled after the Clinton trial, to provide ample time for both sides to present their cases, ask thoughtful questions, and determine whether we need more.
“The House chose to send articles of impeachment that are rushed and flawed. I carefully considered the need for additional witnesses and documents, to cure the shortcomings of its process, but ultimately decided that I will vote against considering motions to subpoena.
“Given the partisan nature of this impeachment from the very beginning and throughout, I have come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate. I don’t believe the continuation of this process will change anything. It is sad for me to admit that, as an institution, the Congress has failed. 
“It has also become clear some of my colleagues intend to further politicize this process, and drag the Supreme Court into the fray, while attacking the Chief Justice. I will not stand for nor support that effort. We have already degraded this institution for partisan political benefit, and I will not enable those who wish to pull down another.
“We are sadly at a low point of division in this country.”
1:33 p.m. ET, January 31, 2020

Schiff on New York Times report: "Let's put John Bolton under oath. Let's find out who is telling the truth."

Senate TV
Senate TV

Lead House impeachment manager Adam Schiff used his opening remarks this afternoon in the impeachment trial to address the New York Times report that claims the President ordered former national security adviser John Bolton to help with the Ukraine pressure campaign to obtain damaging information.

"Just as we predicted, and it didn't require any great act of clairvoyance, the facts will come out. They will continue to come out. And the question before you today is whether they will come out in time for you to make a complete and informed judgment as to the guilt or innocence of the President," Schiff said.

Schiff added: "So here you have the President saying John Bolton is not telling the truth. Let's find out. Let's put John Bolton under oath. Let's find out who is telling the truth. A trial is supposed to be a quest for the truth. Let's not fear what we will learn," Schiff added.

According to the Times, Bolton wrote in a manuscript that Trump gave him the instructions in May. The conversation also included acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani and White House lawyer Pat Cipollone.

The Times reported:

"Mr. Trump told Mr. Bolton to call Volodymyr Zelensky, who had recently won election as president of Ukraine, to ensure Mr. Zelensky would meet with Mr. Giuliani, who was planning a trip to Ukraine to discuss the investigations that the president sought, in Mr. Bolton’s account. Mr. Bolton never made the call, he wrote."

1:24 p.m. ET, January 31, 2020

The Senate begins 4-hour debate on witnesses and documents

Senate TV
Senate TV

Chief Justice John Roberts just announced there will now be "up to four hours of argument by the parties, equally divided, on the question of whether or not it shall be in order to consider and debate under the impeachment rules any motion to subpoena witnesses or documents."

The House managers are arguing in favor of witnesses and documents, while Trump's attorneys are arguing against it.

Mitch McConnell said the Senate would take a break about two hours into the debate. 

1:21 p.m. ET, January 31, 2020

Another key GOP senator will vote no on Senate witnesses

From CNN's Lauren Fox

Julio Cortez/AP
Julio Cortez/AP

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, has indicated she will vote no on having witnesses appear during the Senate trial, according to her office today.

More on Murkowski's importance in the trial: Murkowski was one of three GOP senators who hinted they might vote to have witnesses. The other two — Sens. Susan Collins and Mitt Romney — have said they will vote yes.

The Senate needs 51 votes to approve a motion to have witnesses. If all 47 senators who caucus with the Democrats vote for witnesses, at least four Republicans would need to join them to pass a motion.

1:19 p.m. ET, January 31, 2020

Republican senator: “Lamar speaks for lots and lots of us”

From CNN's Manu Raju

Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Republican Sen. Ben Sasse, who has not said much during the trial, told reporters: “Let me be clear, Lamar speaks for lots and lots of us.”

What this is about: Last night, Sen. Lamar Alexander, Republican from Tennessee and a potential swing vote, announced that he will vote no on hearing from witnesses at the trial.

When CNN's Manu Raju asked if he believes Trump acted inappropriately, Sasse didn’t answer and walked away.