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US Senate sets final vote on Trump impeachment for February 5

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) speaks at the U.S. Capitol on June 11, 2019, in Washington, D.C. At least 10 judicial nominees McConnell helped to block under President Obama have been confirmed after Donald Trump's election. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

U.S. senators have approved a resolution calling for a final vote in the historic impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on February 5.

The resolution approved on January 31 comes hours after senators voted down by a 51-49 margin a move by Democratic managers to call witnesses and subpoena documents for the trial, blocking what could have been explosive testimony by former national-security adviser John Bolton.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said after the vote that there was no need for witnesses or documents in the trial and that investigations done previously in the House of Representatives were enough.

“Senators will now confer among ourselves, with the [Democratic] House managers, and with the president’s counsel to determine next steps as we prepare to conclude the trial in the coming days,” McConnell said in a statement shortly before the passage of the resolution setting the final vote for 4 p.m. on February 5.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a vocal Trump supporter, said the trial should end as soon as possible.

“The cake is baked, and we just need to move as soon as we can to get it behind us,” he told reporters.

Two Republican senators voted for calling witnesses — Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine.

It would have taken four Republican senators to defy the president and vote for witnesses.

An angry Chuck Schumer (New York), the Democratic minority leader, blasted the Republicans’ refusal to allow witnesses and documents to be entered into the trial.

Schumer told reporters that “America will remember this day, unfortunately, where the Senate did not live up to its responsibilities, where the Senate turned away from truth and went along with a sham trial.”

Trump’s acquittal is nearly certain, with Republicans holding 53 seats in the 100-seat Senate. A two-thirds majority would be needed to convict and remove Trump for office.

Closing arguments will begin on February 3 at 11 a.m.

Democrats had hoped to hear from people such as Bolton and others with direct knowledge of the matters at hand.

In a new book, Bolton quoted Trump as telling him in August that he wanted to withhold $391 million in military aid to Ukraine until Kyiv helped by launching investigations into Democrats, including his potential election opponent, former Vice President
Joe Biden, and son Hunter Biden, according to The New York Times.

Trump denied telling Bolton to pressure Kyiv or hold back aid.

New revelations from the book were reported by the newspaper on January 31, even as the vote on witnesses was taking place.

According to the Times, manuscripts from the yet-to-be published book quote Bolton as writing that Trump in May told him to call Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to ensure Zelenskiy would meet with Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, a key player in the matter, to help in a pressure Kyiv.

Robert Costello, a lawyer for Giuliani, called the report “categorically untrue.”

Democrats in the House charged on January 18 that Trump “used his official powers to pressure” Ukraine’s government to “interfere in a United States election for his personal political gain and then attempted to cover up his scheme by obstructing Congress’s investigation into his misconduct.”

They accuse him of pressuring Kyiv to investigate his political rivals by withholding aid approved by Congress and a desired White House visit until the Ukraine government made a public announcement of a probe.

Trump has denied he did anything wrong in his dealings with Ukraine and has called the impeachment process a “sham” and an “attempted coup.”