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Senate rejects witnesses in Trump trial, all but ensuring his acquittal

The Democrats had wanted testimony from John Bolton.

Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

Updated Jan 31st 2020, 11:24 PM

THE SENATE HAS rejected the idea of witnesses in US President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, all but ensuring his eventual acquittal.

But senators considered pushing off final voting on his fate to next week.

The vote on allowing new witnesses was defeated 51-49 on a near party-line vote.

Despite the Democrats singular focus on hearing new testimony, the Republican majority brushed past those demands to make this the first Senate impeachment trial without witnesses.

Even new revelations today from former national security adviser John Bolton did not sway Republican senators, who said they had heard enough.

That means the eventual outcome for President Trump would be an acquittal “in name only”, said Democrat Val Demings, a House prosecutor, during final debate. Some even called it a cover-up.

Trump was impeached by the House last month on charges he abused power and obstructed Congress like no other president has done as he tried to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden, and then blocked the congressional probe of his actions.

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

But Bolton will not be summoned, and none of this appeared to affect the trial’s expected outcome.

In an unpublished manuscript, Bolton writes that the president asked him during an Oval Office meeting in early May to bolster his effort to get Ukraine to investigate Democrats, according to a person who read the passage.

In the meeting, Bolton said the president asked him to call new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and persuade him to meet with Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who was planning to go to Ukraine to coax the Ukrainians to investigate the president’s political rivals.

Bolton writes that he never made the call to Zelenskiy after the meeting, which included acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone.

The revelation adds more detail to allegations of when and how President Trump first sought to influence Ukraine to aid investigations of his rivals that are central to the abuse of power charge in the first article of impeachment.

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