Democrats push for witnesses in Trump trial Republicans hope for quick end
WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial was due to resume on Thursday for a second day of questions by U.S. senators before they address the explosive issue of whether to call witnesses such as former national security adviser John Bolton.
Without witnesses, Republicans, who control the Senate, say the trial could end as early as Friday with Trump’s acquittal, which would leave him in office and allow him to claim vindication just as the Democratic Party holds its first nominating contest for the Nov. 3 election in Iowa on Monday.
Trump will hold a rally in the state on Thursday night.
Democrats accuse the Republican president of abusing his power by using congressionally approved military aid as leverage to get a foreign power to smear former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading contender for the Democratic nomination.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives approved the two articles of impeachment in December. Lawyers for Trump and the House Democrats who are managing the prosecution in the Senate trial will spend Thursday answering questions from lawmakers, read aloud by U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts.
On Friday, each side was expected to present what amount to closing arguments before the Senate moves to the central question of whether to call witnesses, which Democrats believe is essential to shed more light on Trump’s attempt to persuade Ukraine President Volodmyr Zelenskiy to investigate Biden.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said he was still optimistic that witnesses could be called.
“I believe Senate Republicans and the president’s team are worried about the vote,” Schumer told a news conference on Thursday morning, before the proceedings restarted.
Democrats need to persuade at least four Republican senators to vote with them to assure a majority vote in the 100-seat chamber, an effort the top Democrat in the Senate has called an uphill fight.
At least four Republicans – Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee – are seen as potentially on the fence on the issue.
Senator John Barrasso, the No. 3 Republican in seniority, had said on Wednesday the trial could end without witnesses being called despite the pressure from Democrats. – Reuters

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