Democratic hopes of calling new witnesses in President Trump's impeachment trial took a massive hit late Thursday, when Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander declared that he didn't need to hear any more evidence. The Tennessee lawmaker said after Thursday's question-and-answer period that Democrats had proven that the president acted "inappropriately," but he did not believe it met the "United States Constitution's high bar for an impeachable offense," the BBC reports. "There is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven," said the senator, who had been seen as a key swing vote on the question of calling new witnesses. More:
- Trial could end abruptly. A vote on the question of calling new witnesses is expected Friday, and the trial could end with Trump's acquittal during today's session if at least four Republicans fail to vote with all 47 Democrats on the witness question, the AP reports. Democrats had hoped Alexander would join Sens. Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski in voting to allow witnesses.
- Alexander called one charge "frivolous." The senator called one article of impeachment, obstruction of Congress, "frivolous," but admitted that there was some substance to the charge Trump abused his power, reports the New York Times. "It was inappropriate for the president to ask a foreign leader to investigate his political opponent and to withhold United States aid to encourage that investigation," Alexander's statement said. "When elected officials inappropriately interfere with such investigations, it undermines the principle of equal justice under the law." He said, however, that the question of removing Trump is a decision that should be made "in the presidential election that begins in Iowa on Monday."
- Collins confirms vote. Moments before Alexander announced his decision, Collins confirmed she would support calling more witnesses, which could extend the trial by weeks. "The most sensible way to proceed would be for the House Managers and the President’s attorneys to attempt to agree on a limited and equal number of witnesses for each side. If they can’t agree, then the Senate could choose the number of witnesses," the Maine senator said.
- Deadlock is possible. Democrats are urging Chief Justice John Roberts to break the tie if Friday's vote is deadlocked 50-50. But there is "little expectation Roberts would weigh in on such a politically thorny question and instead would allow the tie to result in no witness being subpoenaed," according to the Washington Post.
- Friday's timetable. Politico reports that the Senate session will start at 1pm Friday, followed by an expected four hours of debate on calling new witnesses or requesting more documents. If the senators vote against more witnesses, there will be a vote on holding a final vote, which will most likely be followed by a final vote. Some senators predict the process might not be completed until as late as 3am or 4am.
(Read more Trump trial