Trump lawyer Sekulow says House managers' call for witnesses is a 'smokescreen'

01 Février, 2020, 07:05 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Mitch Mc Connell and Lamar Alexander

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. 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.

Romney's communications director, Liz Johnson, confirmed the senator's position on Twitter.

Senators rejected the Democrats' effort to allow new witness es, 51-49, a near party-line vote.

Conviction can only happen in the Senate and requires at least two-thirds of its members, or 67 senators, to vote in favor of at least one article of impeachment after a trial.

The Senate was due to resume the proceedings at 1 p.m. ET, with further arguments from Trump's legal team and the House of Representatives Democrats serving as prosecutors.

If true, it's significant because Republicans have been arguing that no first-hand witnesses have connected the president to the alleged scheme to withhold aid for political benefit.

Trump was impeached by the House last month on charges that he abused power and obstructed Congress as he tried to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden, using military aid as leverage as the ally fought Russian Federation. The House also charged Trump with obstruction of Congress. He is only the third president in the U.S. history to be impeached, following Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998, both of whom were eventually acquitted.

The Senate is likely to vote next week on whether to convict or acquit the president on the two articles of impeachment brought against him.

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"Never in Senate history has this body paused an impeachment trial to pursue additional witnesses with unresolved questions of executive privilege that would require protracted litigation".

"The witnesses the president is concealing will tell their stories".

"This question was really framed and meant to expose the identity of the whistleblower and subject that whistleblower to retaliation", Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal told reporters. "The president now feels, in effect, legally unleashed". "He won on the issue of witnesses", he added. Trump denies any wrongdoing.

Trump's acquittal would allow him to claim vindication just as the Democratic Party holds its first nominating contest for the November 3 election in Iowa on Monday. Biden is a leading contender for the Democratic nomination to face him. He will deliver his State of the Union speech Tuesday night.

The Democrats had wanted testimony from John Bolton, President Trump's former national security adviser whose forthcoming book links Mr Trump directly to the charges.

Bolton's allegations go to the heart of impeachment charges against Trump. Bolton reportedly writes that Trump directed him to help with the pressure campaign to get dirt on Democratic rivals from Ukraine.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the highest-ranking U.S. official to travel to Ukraine since the impeachment began, emphasized American support for Ukraine.

"And so he will see this, and I think he's probably correct, as a victory", he continued. "Our commitment to support it will not waver", Pompeo said in Kiev.

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