Senate Republicans are conceding that President Donald Trump did pressure Ukraine to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, but that didn’t stop them from voting to block new documentary evidence and witness testimonies in the impeachment trial, moving to a swift acquittal next week.
Only Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine bucked the GOP caucus by voting in favor of hearing from witnesses, inciting polemical criticism of both political parties—Republicans for their perceived failure to conduct a fair trial, and Democrats for hurrying through a sloppy investigation of the president’s alleged misdeeds.
The final vote was 51-49 in favor to block witnesses despite the bombshell revelations from former National Security Advisor John Bolton – whose forthcoming book reportedly provided a firsthand account confirming that Trump made military aid to Ukraine contingent upon Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky publicly announcing the investigations.
Republican Sens. Marco Rubio (FL), Rob Portman (OH), Patrick J. Toomey (PA), and Lamar Alexander (TN) all condemned the president’s conduct as being inappropriate, but ultimately concluded that it did not rise to the level of an impeachable offense.
“If you are persuaded that he did it, why do you need more witnesses?” Sen. Alexander said in a statement confirming his opposition to hearing new evidence. “The country is not going to accept being told that they can’t elect the president they want to elect in the week the election starts by a majority for a merely inappropriate telephone call or action.”
“You don’t apply capital punishment for every offense,” he added.
Richard Painter, the former chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, was particularly incensed by the Senate’s decision to block witness testimony, accusing Republicans and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of covering up the president’s crimes.
“Urinating on the Constitution is fun when you can get away with it,” Painter said, alleging that McConnell hadn’t had “so much fun” since he spearheaded his party’s unprecedented refusal to vote on then-President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in 2016.
Urinating on the constitution is fun when you can get away with it.
This man has not had so much fun since he refused to have a vote — even a hearing — for Merrick Garland's Supreme Court nomination in 2016.https://t.co/LDOSdM77sJ
— Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) February 1, 2020
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