GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska announced on Friday that she will vote against calling additional witnesses in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, all but assuring the proceedings will end by this weekend.
“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,” Murkowski said in a statement.
“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,” she said. “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.”
That was an apparent reference to Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, whose question during the impeachment trial Friday challenged the integrity of Chief Justice John Roberts.
WOW. Chief Justice John Roberts just had to read aloud Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s question…about whether he loses credibility for presiding over a trial without witnesses or evidence. https://t.co/vG08pjmhZH pic.twitter.com/G79ZdRljZj
— Heather Monahan (@HeatherMonahan_) January 30, 2020
Also Friday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called on Roberts to cast a potential tie-breaking vote on witnesses.
“If it’s a tie, it will be up to the chief justice. The chief justice knows every trial has witnesses and documents,” Schumer told reporters Friday morning, according to The Hill.
“If my Republican colleagues refuse to even consider witnesses and documents in this trial, this country is heading towards the greatest coverup since Watergate,” the minority leader charged.
In a December letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Schumer called for four additional witnesses, including former National Security Adviser John Bolton and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.
McConnell responded at the time that it’s not the Senate’s responsibility to spend its time and resources going on a “fishing expedition” to try to cure a flawed House impeachment inquiry.
Republicans hold a 53-47 lead in the Senate, meaning they can afford to lose only two of their members without necessitating a tie-breaking vote.
With Murkowski’s “no” vote, the tally is shaping up to be 51-49 against calling new witnesses in the impeachment trial.
The Alaskan’s decision came following Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander’s announcement Thursday night that he too will vote against additional witnesses being introduced.
Alexander said the Constitution “does not give the Senate the power to remove the president from office and ban him from this year’s ballot simply for actions that are inappropriate.”
Murkowski and Alexander, along with Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah, had been the four Republicans considered the most likely to side with Schumer’s demands.
Collins and Romney have indicated they wanted to hear from Bolton.
Multiple Republican senators had stated if new witnesses were to be introduced at the trial, former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden and the whistleblower who launched the impeachment inquiry would have to be among them.
“If you have a sitting vice president making public policy decisions to benefit his family to the tune of a million bucks a year, that raises a serious question of corruption,” Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas said last week.
Assuming the Senate decides against calling additional witness, a vote on the House Democrats’ impeachment case overall could come as early as Friday night.
Two-thirds of the Senate is required to convict, meaning Trump appears to be heading for an acquittal.
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