Impeachment trial: Key Republican says he’ll vote against witnesses

Washington — Senator Lamar Alexander announced Thursday night he won’t join Democrats in calling for witnesses in President Trump’s impeachment trial, making it unlikely that the simple majority needed to call witnesses will be reached.

“I worked with other senators to make sure that we have the right to ask for more documents and witnesses, but there is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven and that does not meet the United States Constitution’s high bar for an impeachable offense,” Alexander, of Tennessee, said in a statement.

Republican Senator Susan Collins, of Maine, said she’ll vote for witnesses.

Two other GOP senators remain undecided — Utah’s Mitt Romney and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski. Both indicated they wouldn’t announce their decisions until Friday morning, although Romney’s office said late Thursday that he’s said “repeatedly” he wants to hear from former National Security Adviser John Bolton and “thus will vote for the motion tomorrow.”

Four GOP senators would have to join all the Democrats to ensure the testimony of witnesses. Even if both Murkowski and Romney were to vote in favor of calling witnesses, it would likely result  in a 50-50 stalemate. 

And even if Chief Justice John Roberts broke the tie to allow for witnesses, he could still be overruled by a majority of the senators.

Without witnesses, the trial is likely to wrap up late Friday or Saturday. 

Senators concluded three days of questioning on Thursday, the trial’s ninth day. Initially,  Roberts blocked a question from Senator Rand Paul that was believed to include the whistleblower’s name. 

Senators peppered both sides with questions about the president’s efforts to get Ukraine to investigate his political rivals and the legal theories underpinning the two articles of impeachment against him. Mr. Trump’s attorneys argued his conduct doesn’t rise to the level of an impeachable offense and Democrats hammered home their insistence that the Senate call witnesses, particularly Bolton.

He reportedly alleges in a book manuscript that Mr. Trump tied hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine’s willingness to announce investigations of Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, an accusation the president and his team deny.

Download the free CBS News app for complete coverage of the president’s impeachment trial in the Senate. Watch the trial live in the player above.  

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