Trump Acquittal Imminent: Swing-Vote Senator Ends Democrats' Impeachment Hopes
Senator declares Senate impeachment trial is 'shallow, hurried, and wholly partisan'
Swing-vote Republican, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), has announced that he will not support additional witnesses in President Donald Trump's "shallow, hurried, and wholly partisan" Senate impeachment trial, paving the way for an imminent acquittal.
The GOP senator's announcement has seemingly shut down Democrats' hopes of hearing testimony from former national security adviser John Bolton, while ending their anti-Trump impeachment campaign, as soon as Friday night.
"If this shallow, hurried and wholly partisan impeachment were to succeed, it would rip the country apart, pouring gasoline on the fire of cultural divisions that already exist," Sen. Alexander said in a statement.
"It would create the weapon of perpetual impeachment to be used against future presidents whenever the House of Representatives is of a different political party."
“The framers believed that there should never, ever be a partisan impeachment," he added.
"That is why the Constitution requires a 2/3 vote of the Senate for conviction. Yet not one House Republican voted for these articles."
On Tuesday, Trump is set to address Congress for the annual State of the Union address, which is increasingly likely to resemble a cathartic victory lap following months of quixotic Democratic calls for the president's removal from office, according to Fox News.
Republicans have a 53-47 majority in the chamber and can afford up to three defections when the Senate considers whether to call additional witnesses Friday -- a question that is considered by a simple majority vote.
In the event of a 50-50 tie, by rule, the vote on witnesses would fail in the Senate.
Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts is likely to abstain rather than assert his debatable power to cast a tie-breaking vote.
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Should the witness vote fail as expected, the Senate would likely then vote on the articles of impeachment Friday night or sometime Saturday.
An extraordinarily unlikely two-thirds supermajority vote is needed to convict and remove Trump; otherwise, he will be acquitted.
As of midnight Friday, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has announced she wants to hear from a "limited" number of additional witnesses; Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, has strongly signaled he wants to hear from Bolton; and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, told Fox News late Thursday she was still weighing the issue and would decide in the morning.
"I’m gonna go back to my office and put some eye drops in so I can keep reading. That’s gonna be my job," Murkowski told Fox News, adding that she anticipated a "long night."
But Alexander, in his dramatic late-night statement that came at the close of the Senate's session Thursday, torpedoed Democrats' hopes that he would be the fourth Republican defector they need.
Alexander flat-out dismissed Democrats' "obstruction of Congress" article of impeachment as "frivolous," citing the longstanding principle of executive privilege.
"There is no need to consider further the frivolous second article of impeachment that would remove the president for asserting his constitutional prerogative to protect confidential conversations with his close advisers," Alexander said.
Alexander, who is retiring, asserted that Trump's conduct did not justify the extraordinary remedy of his immediate removal by the Senate, especially in an election year.
"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 said.
"There is no need to consider further the frivolous second article of impeachment that would remove the president for asserting his constitutional prerogative to protect confidential conversations with his close advisers.
"When elected officials inappropriately interfere with such investigations, it undermines the principle of equal justice under the law.
"But the Constitution does not give the Senate the power to remove the president from office and ban him from this year’s ballot simply for actions that are inappropriate."
Indeed, Alexander said, “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 question then is not whether the president did it, but whether the United States Senate or the American people should decide what to do about what he did," Alexander said.
"I believe that the Constitution provides that the people should make that decision in the presidential election that begins in Iowa on Monday.
"The Senate has spent nine long days considering this ‘mountain’ of evidence, the arguments of the House managers and the president’s lawyers, their answers to senators’ questions and the House record.
"Even if the House charges were true, they do not meet the Constitution’s ‘treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors’ standard for an impeachable offense."