President Donald Trump's impeachment trial now shifts to questions from senators, a pivotal juncture as Republicans lack the votes to block witnesses. They now face a potential setback in their hope of ending the trial with a quick acquittal.
Trump's defense team rested Tuesday with a plea to “end now,” but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell privately told senators he doesn't yet have the votes to brush back Democratic demands for witnesses now that revelations from John Bolton, the former national security adviser, have roiled the trial.
Those demands gained steam with John Bolton's assertion in a forthcoming book that Trump tied military aid from Ukraine to investigations into Democratic rival Joe Biden. If true, it undercuts a key defense argument and goes to the heart of one of the two articles of impeachment against the president.
Trump called Bolton's book “nasty & untrue.”
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In a Senate split 53-47 in favor of Republicans, at least four GOP senators must join all Democrats to reach the 51 votes required to call witnesses, decide whom to call or do nearly anything else in the trial. Several Republicans apparently are ready to join Democrats in calling witnesses.
The two days set aside for questions, Wednesday and Thursday, also allow each side more time to win over any undecided senators pondering the witness issue. In the meantime, all will have the opportunity to grill both the House Democrats prosecuting the case and the Republican president's defense team.
Read More: Impeachment Trial Moves To Question Phase, While Witness Vote Looms (via NPR.org)