Fourth GOP senator wants vote on witnesses: Impeachment update

Billy House
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she’ll send the articles of impeachment against Donald Trump to the Senate this week to begin the president’s trial. Democrats tried to pressure Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to allow a vote to call witnesses at the outset, but he said he plans to stick to the Clinton impeachment trial structure, which would put any decision on witnesses off until after opening arguments and the White Houses defense.

Here are the latest developments:

Fourth GOP Senator Wants Vote on Witnesses (12:05 p.m.)

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., walks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019.

Republican Senator Lamar Alexander said Tuesday he wants a guaranteed vote during the trial on whether senators will hear from new witnesses and see additional documents.

“First we need to hear the case – not dismiss the case, we need to hear it,” said Alexander of Tennessee, who plans to retire after this session of Congress. “That means hear the arguments, ask our questions and then be guaranteed a right to vote on whether we need more evidence.”

“And that could be witnesses, it could be documents,” Alexander said. “I’ll reserve that decision until I hear the case and I ask questions.”

Alexander is the fourth GOP senator to publicly speak in favor of hearing new evidence during Trump’s trial. Four GOP votes would be needed to join the 47 Democrats to make a majority in favor of calling witnesses.

A day earlier, GOP Senators Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah said they wanted to ensure there will be an opportunity to vote on calling witnesses or other information later in the trial.

Pelosi Announces Wednesday Vote on Articles (11:48 a.m.)

Pelosi announced that the House will vote Wednesday to name the impeachment managers and transmit the two articles to the Senate.

In a statement, the speaker criticized McConnell for signing on to a proposal to dismiss the charges without a trial.

“Leader McConnell and the President are afraid of more facts coming to light,” Pelosi said. “The American people deserve the truth, and the Constitution demands a trial.”

In addition, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler is not ruling out the possibility that he and other impeachment managers will urge the Senate to allow the trial to consider new evidence and witness testimony not presented in the House investigation of Trump.

“New evidence can certainly be admitted, that’s always the case – provided the Senate allows a reasonable trial,” Nadler said. “New evidence can always be admitted in any fair trial.”

Asked if that will be a focus of legal arguments to be presented to the Senate once the trial begins, Nadler said, “We’ll see.”

Pelosi Sets Wednesday Vote to Send Articles (9:54 a.m.)

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., joined by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., leaves a lengthy closed-door meeting with the Democratic Caucus at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020. Speaker Pelosi is expected to appoint House impeachment managers and transmit the two articles of impeachment ( abuse of power and obstruction of Congress ) by the end of the week.

Pelosi set a Wednesday vote to name House impeachment managers and transmit the two articles of impeachment against Trump to the Senate.

“The vote will be tomorrow,” Representative Henry Cuellar said after House Democrats met with Pelosi to set out the next steps in the impeachment drama.

Pelosi didn’t say who she’ll propose as the impeachment managers to present the House case at a Senate trial, which could get under way early next week, according to other lawmakers in the meeting. – Erik Wasson, Billy House

Democrats Meet on Plan to Transmit Articles (9:06 a.m.)

House Democrats began their weekly caucus meeting to discuss the plan for transmitting two articles of impeachment against Trump charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress articles to the Senate.

Pelosi didn’t share her strategy with her top deputies in a Monday evening meeting, according to those who participated.

Pelosi in Tuesday’s meeting could share the names of the impeachment managers who will prosecute the House’s case in the Senate trial. Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff and Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler are expected to be part of the team. – Billy House

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