//Key swing-vote GOP Sen. Alexander comes out towards witnesses, paving method for imminent Trump acquittal

Key swing-vote GOP Sen. Alexander comes out towards witnesses, paving method for imminent Trump acquittal

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., introduced late Thursday night time that he wouldn’t assist further witnesses in President Trump’s “shallow, hurried and wholly partisan” Senate impeachment trial, seemingly ending Democrats’ hopes of listening to testimony from former nationwide safety adviser John Bolton and paving the way in which for the president’s imminent acquittal as quickly as Friday night time.

“If this shallow, hurried and wholly partisan impeachment had been to succeed, it will rip the nation aside, pouring gasoline on the fireplace of cultural divisions that exist already,” Alexander stated. “It will create the weapon of perpetual impeachment for use towards future presidents at any time when the Home of Representatives is of a special political social gathering.”

He added: “The framers believed that there ought to by no means, ever be a partisan impeachment. That’s the reason the Structure requires a 2/Three vote of the Senate for conviction. But not one Home Republican voted for these articles.”

Republicans have a 53-47 majority within the chamber, and might afford as much as three defections when the Senate considers whether or not to name further witnesses Friday — a query that’s thought-about by a easy majority vote. In the occasion of a 50-50 tie, by rule, the vote on witnesses would fail within the Senate. Chief Justice of the US John Roberts is more likely to abstain somewhat than assert his debatable power to forged a tie-breaking vote.


Ought to the witness vote fail as anticipated, the Senate would seemingly then vote on the articles of impeachment Friday night time or someday Saturday. A very unlikely two-thirds supermajority vote is required to convict and take away Trump; in any other case he can be acquitted.

‘Lengthy night time’ forward

As of midnight Friday, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has introduced she needs to listen to from a “restricted” variety of further witnesses; Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, has strongly signaled he needs to listen to from Bolton; and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, advised Fox Information late Thursday she was nonetheless weighing the difficulty and would resolve within the morning. (“I’m gonna return to my workplace and put some eyedrops in so I can preserve studying. That’s gonna be my job,” Murkowski advised Fox Information, including that she anticipated a “lengthy night time.”)

​​​​​​​The U.S. Capitol is seen at sunset in Washington, Jan. 24, 2019. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., appears to have the votes to end the trial against President Trump. (Associated Press)

​​​​​​​The U.S. Capitol is seen at sundown in Washington, Jan. 24, 2019. Senate Majority Chief Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., seems to have the votes to finish the trial towards President Trump. (Related Press)

However Alexander, in his dramatic late-night assertion that got here on the shut of the Senate’s session Thursday, torpedoed Democrats’ hopes that he can be the fourth Republican defector they want. Alexander started by flat-out dismissing Democrats’ “obstruction of Congress” article of impeachment as “frivolous” given the president’s long-established precept of government privilege.

On the identical time, he stated Democrats had simply confirmed their case that “the president requested Ukraine to research Joe Biden and his son, Hunter” and that “the president withheld United States assist, a minimum of partly, to stress Ukraine to research the Bidens.”

Nonetheless, Alexander, who’s retiring, asserted that Trump’s conduct didn’t justify the extraordinary treatment of his instant removing by the Senate, particularly in an election yr.

“Let the individuals resolve.”   

— U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.

“I labored with different senators to make it possible for we now have the correct to ask for extra paperwork and witnesses, however there isn’t any want for extra proof to show one thing that has already been confirmed and that doesn’t meet the US Structure’s excessive bar for an impeachable offense,” Alexander stated.

“There is no such thing as a want for extra proof to show that the president requested Ukraine to research Joe Biden and his son, Hunter; he stated this on tv on October 3, 2019, and through his July 25, 2019, phone name with the president of Ukraine,” he continued. “There is no such thing as a want for extra proof to conclude that the president withheld United States assist, a minimum of partly, to stress Ukraine to research the Bidens; the Home managers have proved this with what they name a ‘mountain of overwhelming evidence.’ There is no such thing as a want to contemplate additional the frivolous second article of impeachment that will take away the president for asserting his constitutional prerogative to guard confidential conversations along with his shut advisers.

“It was inappropriate for the president to ask a international chief to research his political opponent and to withhold United States assist to encourage that investigation,” he continued. “When elected officers inappropriately intervene with such investigations, it undermines the precept of equal justice beneath the regulation. However the Structure doesn’t give the Senate the facility to take away the president from workplace and ban him from this yr’s poll merely for actions which can be inappropriate.”

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., announced he would not support additional witnesses in Trump's impeachment trial -- in a major win for President Trump that likely ensures his imminent acquittal. (Associated Press)

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., introduced he wouldn’t assist further witnesses in Trump’s impeachment trial — in a serious win for President Trump that seemingly ensures his imminent acquittal. (Related Press)

Certainly, Alexander stated, “Our founding documents provide for duly elected presidents who serve with ‘the consent of the governed,’ not at the pleasure of the United States Congress. Let the people decide.”

“The query then will not be whether or not the president did it, however whether or not the US Senate or the American individuals ought to resolve what to do about what he did,” Alexander stated. “I consider that the Structure supplies that the individuals ought to make that call within the presidential election that begins in Iowa on Monday. The Senate has spent 9 lengthy days contemplating this ‘mountain’ of proof, the arguments of the Home managers and the president’s legal professionals, their solutions to senators’ questions and the Home report. Even when the Home costs had been true, they don’t meet the Structure’s ‘treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors’ normal for an impeachable offense.”

The left reacts

Response from the left was instant and emotional. Mara Homosexual, a member of The New York Occasions editorial board, lamented on MSNBC that the state of affairs was “actually a capstone in a, simply, whole collapse of religion in American establishments.”

Homosexual went on to say that her father grew up within the Jim Crow-era South, and declared that Republicans’ arguments had been “fairly acquainted” and reminded her of that point.

“And , I’ve to say, as any person who grew up with a father who grew up within the Jim Crow South, and in, uh, Jim Crow Detroit, quite a lot of what this has appeared like from the Republican aspect, the type of a maddening and farcical nature of this, the dearth of good-faith argument, sounds very acquainted to me. It is truly very scary.”

Anchor Brian Williams, who notably lied repeatedly to be able to embellish his time in Iraq, then stated that Homosexual spoke for a “metric ton” of the community’s viewers.

The Senate impeachment trial question-and-answer section wrapped up Thursday night time after a complete of 180 interrogatories, establishing the pivotal vote Friday on whether or not to subpoena further witnesses and paperwork, or to carry a remaining vote on whether or not to question or acquit President Trump.

Dry January

Final December, Senate Majority Chief Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., revealed the Senate schedule for 2020. He solely put 11 months on the calendar, fully leaving out January, as a result of nobody fairly knew what was in retailer for the Senate with a doable impeachment trial. If the Senate wraps up the trial Friday night time, McConnell can have accurately predicted how lengthy it will take to acquit the president.

In the meantime, as anticipated, Collins introduced after the conclusion of questioning that she helps listening to from a “restricted” variety of further witnesses.

“I consider listening to from sure witnesses would give either side the chance to extra absolutely and pretty make their case, resolve any ambiguities, and supply further readability,” Collins stated. “Due to this fact, I’ll vote in assist of the movement to permit witnesses and paperwork to be subpoenaed. … If this movement passes, I consider that probably the most smart technique to proceed can be for the Home Managers and the President’s attorneys to try to agree on a restricted and equal variety of witnesses for either side. If they’ll’t agree, then the Senate might select the variety of witnesses.”

Individually, although, Collins has signaled reluctance about Democrats’ case: On Wednesday, she was seen shaking her head as Democrats tried to elucidate why they felt non-criminal conduct like “abuse of energy” must be impeachable.


Trump protection counsel Patrick Philbin stated late Thursday that if Democrats wish to “go down the street” of including extra witnesses, then Trump’s group would push aggressively to study extra in regards to the Ukraine whistleblower’s contact with Democrats in the House previous to submitting his grievance, in addition to the whistleblower’s own apparent partisan bias.

Moreover, Trump’s protection group argued that Democrats contradicted themselves by saying their case was “overwhelming” and that Trump was responsible past “any doubt” — at the same time as they insist that they should name extra witnesses and see extra proof.

Momentum has been shifting away from a vote in favor of witnesses, ever since Trump tweeted a link Wednesday to an interview of Bolton in August 2019 the place he discusses Ukraine coverage. Within the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty interview clip, Bolton makes no point out of any illicit quid professional quo, and acknowledges, as Republicans have claimed, that combating “corruption” in Ukraine was a “excessive precedence” for the Trump administration.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, announced she supported hearing from a limited number of addiitonal witnesses. She is a key moderate swing vote.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, introduced she supported listening to from a restricted variety of addiitonal witnesses. She is a key reasonable swing vote.

Bolton additionally known as Trump’s communications with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “heat and cordial,” with out mentioning any misconduct. It seemingly contradicted reported assertions in Bolton’s forthcoming ebook alleging that Trump explicitly advised him he wished to tie army assist to Ukraine to an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden.

Trump captioned the video: “GAME OVER!”

Dems’ headscratchers

Home impeachment supervisor Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., and presidential contender Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., raised eyebrows throughout the proceedings Thursday — together with from Chief Justice Roberts.

At one level Thursday afternoon, Jeffries argued that the Steele file — written by a international ex-spy and dependent partly on Russian sources — didn’t represent improper international election interference as a result of the Hillary Clinton marketing campaign and Democratic Nationwide Committee (DNC) paid for the file, somewhat than receiving it for gratis.

His declare got here in response to a query from Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., that was aimed toward arguing how the Democrats would not wish to apply their requirements to their very own candidates.

“Hillary Clinton’s marketing campaign and [the] Democratic Nationwide Committee employed a retired international spy to work with Russian contacts to construct a file of opposition analysis towards their political opponent, Donald Trump. Underneath the Home managers’ normal, would the Steele file be thought-about international interference within the U.S. election, a violation of the regulation, and/or an impeachable offense?” Burr requested.

Jeffries then rose and declared, “The analogy is, uh, not relevant to the current state of affairs as a result of, first, to the extent that opposition analysis was obtained, it was opposition analysis that was bought.”

He then accused Republicans of avoiding info and making an attempt to distract from Trump’s conduct.

Jeffries’ response drew mockery on-line from a slew of commentators — “Minimize a verify to Ukraine. We’re carried out right here,” wrote one — and an instantaneous rebuke within the chamber from Trump legal professional Jay Sekulow.

“So, I suppose you should buy — that is what it appears like — you should buy international interference? You should purchase it? You should purchase their opposition analysis and I suppose it is OK?” he requested.


One of many file’s international sources was the previous deputy international minister for Russia, Vyacheslav Trubnikov — a identified Russian intelligence officer. A lot of the Steele file has been proved unsubstantiated, together with the file’s claims that the Trump marketing campaign was paying hackers primarily based out of a nonexistent Russian consulate in Miami or that ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen traveled to Prague to conspire with Russians. Former Particular Counsel Robert Mueller additionally was unable to substantiate the file’s claims that Web page had acquired a big fee regarding the sale of a share of Rosneft, a Russian oil large, or {that a} lurid blackmail tape involving the president existed.

Nonetheless, the FBI relied closely on the file to acquire a secret surveillance warrant to watch a former member of the Trump marketing campaign, Carter Web page. Information of that warrant leaked, and along with the file’s salacious accusations, fueled months of unfounded hypothesis that the Trump marketing campaign had conspired with Russia.


Individually, on the Senate impeachment trial Thursday, Warren posed a query that, by rule, was learn aloud by Roberts — and even Democrats within the chamber appeared visibly puzzled by the interrogatory.

“At a time when massive majorities of Individuals have misplaced religion in authorities, does the truth that the chief justice is presiding over an impeachment trial wherein Republican senators have up to now refused to permit witnesses or proof contribute to the lack of legitimacy of the chief justice, the Supreme Courtroom and the Structure?” Roberts learn from the cardboard handed to him by the clerk.

When he completed studying the query — explicitly posed to the Home impeachment managers — Roberts pursed his lips and shot a chagrined look.

After a second, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the lead impeachment supervisor, appeared on the dais to reply the query — standing mere ft in entrance of Roberts.


Schiff appeared to attempt to distance himself from Warren’s query, providing a brief reply to the query earlier than talking at size a couple of tangential trade.

“I wouldn’t say that it results in a lack of confidence within the chief justice,” Schiff stated, including that Roberts has up to now “presided admirably.”

He then rapidly pivoted to a criticism of President Trump and a dialog he had in regards to the impeachment trial with Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J.

Whistleblower showdown

Justice Roberts shut down a query Thursday from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., that talked about the identify of the alleged Ukraine whistleblower, prompting Paul to storm out of the impeachment trial and maintain an impromptu information convention to learn the query anyway.

The conflict got here after the chief justice, who’s presiding over the trial, equally rebuffed Paul a day earlier. (Paul, in line with reporter Niels Lesniewski, was apparently fuming afterward, shouting to a staffer: “I do not wish to have to face as much as attempt to combat for recognition. … If I’ve to combat for recognition, I’ll.”)


“As you may have noticed, we had something slightly atypical downstairs. I asked a question and the question was refused,” Paul advised reporters after exiting the Senate chamber and dashing upstairs to the Senate TV studio.

After seeing Paul’s query on a notecard, Roberts dominated towards presenting it within the trial: “The presiding officer declines to learn the query as submitted,” he stated.

Paul asserted that Roberts’ ruling was unsuitable as a result of nobody is aware of if the identify of the particular person on his query card is the whistleblower.

“I feel it was an incorrect discovering,” Paul stated.

Paul wished to ask whether or not Schiff, who chairs the Home Intelligence Committee, and the White Home counsel had been conscious that an intel committee employees member had an in depth relationship with the reported whistleblower once they had been on the Nationwide Safety Council collectively.

“How do you reply to reviews that [the whistleblower] might have labored collectively to plot impeaching the president earlier than there have been formal Home impeachment proceedings?” Paul stated he wrote on the cardboard.

He added that his query “makes no reference to anybody who may or may not be a whistleblower,” and that it was curious that Roberts apparently assumed the person he named was, in reality, the whistleblower.

Schiff has made public inconsistent statements in regards to the Home Intelligence Committee’s contacts with the whistleblower. He first denied that his panel had such contact, then reversed course and admitted that members of the committee had spoken to the whistleblower.

Paul’s query reportedly included the names of two people. Fox Information has not confirmed the whistleblower’s identify.

Federal regulation protects whistleblowers solely from retaliation within the office and doesn’t guarantee their anonymity; Republicans have disputed whether or not this specific whistleblower would even qualify for these restricted protections, saying his grievance issues a coverage dispute and doesn’t allege legal or civil wrongdoing by the president.

Finally, Republicans had been allowed to ask basically the identical query Paul proposed, besides with out the whistleblower’s identify in it. Schiff declined to reply, calling it a smear.

It might be, Republicans have asserted, that the whistleblower coordinated his grievance with Schiff’s panel for partisan causes — a disclosure that, if true, would seemingly undermine the credibility of the impeachment proceedings and presumably expose Schiff to his personal “abuse of energy” allegations. To this point, the impeachment effort has arguably been elevated in significance from regular partisan bickering partly by the gravitas afforded to the supposedly well-meaning whistleblower on the middle of the case.


Republicans have sought extra data on the whistleblower ever because the intelligence group’s inside watchdog discovered several indicators that the particular person may need a political bias.

Fox Information has beforehand reported that the whistleblower is a registered Democrat and had a prior work history with a senior Democrat running for president. Moreover, the whistleblower faces an Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) complaint for allegedly violating federal regulation by elevating cash ostensibly to pay for his authorized charges, together with cash that might be coming from international sources.

The whistleblower’s legal professional, Mark Zaid, openly admitted in 2017 {that a} “coup” had began towards the president from throughout the administration, and that CNN’s protection would play a “key function” within the effort.

On Wednesday, Schiff once more denied understanding the id of the whistleblower, whereas Republicans accused him of intentionally mendacity. Schiff repeatedly shut down GOP questions throughout the Home impeachment proceedings regarding White Home leaks — despite the fact that doing so at one level seemingly demonstrated that Schiff seemingly knew the whistleblower’s id.

“Lieutenant Colonel [Alexander] Vindman, did you discuss the July 25 phone call [between Trump and Ukraine’s president] with anyone outside the White House on July 25 or the 26 and if so, with whom?” Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., requested final yr.


“Yes. I did,” responded Vindman, who has additionally claimed to not know the whistleblower’s id. He stated he had spoken to Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent, however earlier than he might point out the opposite particular person, Schiff intervened and urgently blocked the questioning.

“We need to protect the whistleblower,” Schiff interjected. “Please stop. I want to make sure that there is no effort to out the whistleblower through these proceedings. If the witness has a good faith belief that this may reveal the identity of the whistleblower, that is not the purpose that we’re here for. I want to advise the witness accordingly.”

Dershowitz faces off with Toobin

Harvard Regulation Professor Alan Dershowitz, a member of Trump’s protection group, wasn’t within the Senate chamber Thursday attributable to household obligations. However he did submit on Twitter and make a prolonged look on CNN, telling the community that it ought to cease mischaracterizing his arguments on impeachment.

The second was considerably private for Dershowitz, as CNN’s chief authorized analyst Jeffrey Toobin is one in every of his former college students at Harvard. A number of media shops, together with CNN, misrepresented Dershowitz all through the week as saying that presidents can do “something” so long as they’ll argue it is within the “public curiosity.” Moreover, a number of politicians, together with Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., falsely claimed that Dershowitz argued Trump’s conduct was “OK.”

In truth, Dershowitz maintained that legal or criminal-like conduct is impeachable, no matter its motivation. And he didn’t endorse Trump’s conduct. As a substitute, Dershowitz asserted the Senate shouldn’t be within the enterprise of eradicating elected presidents primarily based on nebulous and unconstitutional “abuse of energy” or “obstruction of Congress” costs that the framers expressly rejected.

“I’ve by no means stated {that a} president can do something if he believes that his election is within the public curiosity to get reelected,” Dershowitz advised Toobin and CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer. “That is merely false. I began my speech within the Senate by saying I fully assist the impeachment of [Richard] Nixon, who every thing he did, he did as a result of he wished to get reelected. And clearly he thought his reelection was within the public curiosity.”

He added: “I by no means stated, by no means urged — and it was a complete distortion, not a misunderstanding, distortion of my level — that I feel a president can do something … It is nonsense. And your community ought to by no means have stated that.”

“What’s unsuitable with taking a look at whether or not a president has a corrupt intent in his actions?” Toobin responded. “I imply, that appears to be the guts that’s the difficulty right here.”

“It is not, it is not,” Dershowitz stated. “The query is the way you outline corrupt, and my argument was there is a huge distinction between taking a bribe — I gave an instance proper on the ground of the Senate. If the president stated, ‘I am not supplying you with your cash, I am withholding the cash until you let me construct a lodge and have my identify on it or give me a million-dollar kickback.’ That is corrupt. That is clear.”

Dershowitz went on to say it will be a “harmful” precept to say {that a} president could be impeached if he acts, partly, attributable to private political motivation, as a result of “it should permit impeachment of any president who look to his personal reelectability as even a small issue.”

To show that time within the Senate on Wednesday, Dershowitz made thinly veiled references to former President Barack Obama’s refusal to ship army assist to Ukraine, in addition to his failed, unenforced “crimson line” warning for Syria to not use chemical weapons. Obama was also caught on a hot microphone promising Russia’s president he would have “extra flexibility” on missile protection points after the 2012 election.

“Let’s take into account a hypothetical,” Dershowitz stated. “Let’s assume that President Obama had been advised by his advisers that it truly is essential to ship deadly weapons to the Ukraine. However then he will get a name from his pollster and his political adviser, who says we all know it is within the nationwide curiosity to ship deadly weapons to the Ukraine, however we’re telling you that the left-wing of your social gathering is de facto going to present you a tough time if you happen to begin promoting deadly weapons and probably get right into a deadly warfare with Russia. Would anyone right here recommend that’s impeachable?”


He continued: “Or let’s assume President Obama stated, ‘I promise to bomb Syria if they’d chemical weapons. However I am now advised by my pollster that bombing Syria would damage my electoral probabilities.’ Merely not impeachable in any respect.”

Earlier within the day, additionally on CNN, Harvard Regulation College professor Nikolas Bowie disputed Dershowitz as as to if “maladministration” — a time period the framers rejected as a viable grounds for impeachment — was basically the identical as “abuse of energy,” one of many Democrats’ costs towards Trump.

Bowie known as Dershowitz’s interpretation a “joke,” in a slam that was particularly notable as a result of Dershowitz had cited Bowie’s scholarship on the Senate flooring.

Dershowitz was merely unsuitable, Bowie argued, that maladministration is synonymous with abuse of energy. The previous is equal to doing all of your finest however delivering poor work product, he argued; the latter is essentially legal, even when it is not outlined wherever in a statute.

What’s forward

The impeachment trial reconvenes at 1 p.m. ET Friday. The Senate will instantly go to as much as 4 hours of arguments by the Democratic impeachment managers and the protection counsel. There may be deliberation by senators, which could contain a closed session and even debate among the many senators themselves on the ground.

Regardless, as soon as that’s carried out, the Senate will debate a proposal to subpoena paperwork or witnesses. That might devour as much as two hours on the ground – and won’t unfold till the night.

After that’s full, the Senate will take what’s termed the “gateway” vote as as to if or to not open the door to subpoenaing witnesses or paperwork.

If, opposite to expectations, senators vote to open up the gateway to witnesses or paperwork, a large number of proposals might comply with over a number of hours from McConnell and Senate Minority Chief Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. These would seemingly be numerous slates of witness proposals. Democrats wish to get Republicans on the report opposing sure witnesses. Democrats would then attempt to boomerang that vote on weak Republicans this fall and argue that McConnell tilted the enjoying discipline within the trial towards the president.

Former National security adviser John Bolton leaves his home in Bethesda, Md. Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020. President Donald Trump's legal team is raising a broad-based attack on the impeachment case against him even as it mostly brushes past allegations in a new book that could undercut a key defense argument at the Senate trial. (Associated Press)

Former Nationwide safety adviser John Bolton leaves his dwelling in Bethesda, Md. Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020. President Donald Trump’s authorized group is elevating a broad-based assault on the impeachment case towards him even because it largely brushes previous allegations in a brand new ebook that would undercut a key protection argument on the Senate trial. (Related Press)


If for some purpose the Senate votes in favor of a person witness, then the trial is way from carried out. The Senate trial guidelines require senators to depose the witness in non-public. That might are available days or even weeks, however within the meantime, the trial on the ground would go darkish. (Nonetheless, the Senate might take into account different enterprise throughout this era. The Senate would finally need to vote to summon a given witness to the ground.)

If the Senate rejects the gateway vote, the impeachment trial is probably going on a glide path to conclusion. There might be further debate after that; the Senate might take into account a movement to dismiss the articles; or there might be remaining verdict votes on each articles of impeachment.


It stays doable the Senate might take remaining votes on every article of impeachment — there can be separate, distinct votes on abuse of energy and obstruction of Congress — late Friday night, within the wee hours of Saturday morning or later within the day Saturday.

A number of Democratic senators have privately signaled they need the trial to wrap up rapidly — partially out of exhaustion, but additionally as a result of Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren urgently wish to get again to Iowa to marketing campaign forward of subsequent week’s crucial caucuses.

Fox Information’ Chad Pergram, Mike Emanuel, Marisa Schultz and Charles Crietz contributed to this report.