WASHINGTON (CN) — In what Democrats denounced as an illegitimate end to President Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, Republicans killed a motion Friday that would have allowed for new witnesses and evidence.
The 49-51 vote came after final debates over the witness issue, which was the last outstanding question in a trial whose final outcome is all but certain.
The Friday evening vote means Trump’s will be the first presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history that concludes without the Senate hearing from additional witnesses.
On the heels of a similar announcement Thursday evening from Republican Senator Lamar Alexander, however, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski revealed she would not support the call for new witnesses to cure what she described as defects in the articles against Trump.
With the announcements all but assuring the motion will fail, lawmakers nevertheless began what will be a four-hour debate on the issue of witnesses. A vote of acquittal is expected to follow, though exactly when remains unclear.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the outcome a "perfidy" and a "grand tragedy."
“If the president is acquitted with no witnesses, no documents, the acquittal will have no value because Americans will know that this trial was not a real trial,” Schumer said. “It had no witnesses, no documents.”
The Democratic leader declined to comment on next steps as Republicans gear up to acquit Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated following the vote that both sides will determine how to wrap up the historic proceedings “in the coming days.”
Lead House manager Adam Schiff began a seemingly futile debate this afternoon by referencing a New York Times report released earlier in the day about the unreleased memoir of former national security adviser John Bolton.
According to a copy of Bolton’s manuscript that the Times reviewed, Bolton says President Donald Trump tied investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, to a hold on $391 million in military assistance to Ukraine.
Trump also reportedly asked Bolton to help arrange a meeting between the new president of Ukraine and Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney.
Democrats spent their time before the Senate on Friday afternoon imploring lawmakers to heed their call for witnesses.
“So here you have the president saying, ‘John Bolton is not telling the truth,’” Schiff said. “Let’s find out. Let’s put John Bolton under oath. Let’s find out who’s telling the truth. A trial is supposed to be a quest for the truth. Let’s not fear what we will learn.”
Trying to assuage Republicans concerned about locking up the chamber in an interminable impeachment trial, House managers argued the Senate could break from trial for a week while deposing witnesses, during which time the chamber would be able to conduct its usual business.
Soon after succeeding in his efforts to keep new witnesses out of Trump’s trial, McConnell said the record in the House should be enough for senators to make the ultimate decisions.
“There is no need for the Senate to reopen the investigation which the House Democratic majority chose to conclude and which the managers themselves continue to describe as ‘overwhelming’ and ‘beyond any doubt,’” McConnell said in a statement.