Top 3 Takeaways From the Senate Impeachment Trial Against Trump

With tensions between the U.S. and Iran making headlines, the impeachment trial was quick to be forgotten this week. Donald J. Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives on Dec. 18, 2019, on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The impeachment trial then started up in the United States Senate on Jan. 16, 2020. Closing arguments are set to start on Monday, Feb. 3 with plans to vote on whether to remove on acquit Trump on the two impeachment charges.

The trial came to a close on Friday when the Senate voted against hearing additional witnesses. The Senate is set to vote on Trump’s impeachment on Wednesday, Feb. 5 at about 4 p.m., and he is sure to be acquitted. That being said, here are three main takeaway points from the trial.

 

  1. 1. The Senate Will Not Consider New Witnesses or Evidence

    In a nearly party-line vote, the Senate voted against hearing any new testimony or having any new evidence entered. There was a 51-49 vote with the majority voting against hearing new witness testimonies. This was a big victory for Senate Majority Mitch McConnell and Trump, who bought fought to keep testimony from former national security adviser John Bolton and others from prolonging the trial. Many of the arguments from the House managers over the past weeks have centered around the importance of hearing from witnesses, like Trump’s former national security adviser, John R. Bolton, who has firsthand accounts of Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

    Democrats have claimed that a trial without witness testimonies and new evidence is not a fair one, with Republicans saying that they did not need to heat any additional information and that the democrats brought on a weak case. Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer made a statement that the trial was a sham and a tragedy. Schumer was quoted saying “to not allow a witness, a document in an impeachment trial is perfidy; America will remember this day, unfortunately, where the Senate did not live up to its responsibilities.”

     

  2. 2. A New Report From The Times Led to Managers Making Their Final Pleas  

    In the hours before the vote, House impeachment managers made their final plea, citing a New York Times report that published about an hour before the trial started.

    The report, which draws from new details from an upcoming book by Bolton, shows that Trump had a direct role in the Ukraine campaign earlier than previously know, and the senior White House officials became aware of it.

    In the book, Bolton writes about a meeting in early May in which Trump instructed him to call President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to pressure him to meet with Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani. According to Bolton’s take on the interaction, one of Trump’s defense lawyers for the impeachment trial, Pat Cipollone, was also present in the meeting which took place months before Trump and Zelensky spoke on the phone on July 25. That conversation ultimately set the impeachment proceedings in motion.

  3. 3. More Republicans Announced Their Intentions to Acquit Trump

    Even before the Senate trial resumed on Friday, some Republican senators announced their plans to acquit Trump, and there was significantly less note-taking in the Senate chamber compared with previous days of the trial.

    “Can anyone doubt that at least half the country would view his removal as illegitimate —as nothing short of a coup d’état?” Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, wrote in a statement on Friday. His decision, he said, was made out of concern of further dividing the country. Rubio added that if Trump was removed from office, it would be a victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin. “It is difficult to conceive of any scheme Putin could undertake that would undermine confidence in our democracy more than removal would,” Rubio wrote.

    Senators Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, said that he did find some of Trump’s actions “wrong and inappropriate,” but he wanted to leave it to voters to decide on a verdict in November. “Our country is already too deeply divided and we should be working to heal wounds, not create new ones,” Portman said in a statement.

The 4 p. m. vote on Wednesday will conclude a 20-day proceeding, only the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history. The Senate is virtually certain to acquit Trump, and even some Democrats may oppose an obstruction of congress article approved by the House.