The Senate is expected to acquit Donald Trump as early as Friday after a key Republican member said he will vote against allowing witnesses in the president’s impeachment trial.
CNN’s Carl Bernstein, the famed Watergate reporter who once helped expose President Richard Nixon, said Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander’s announcement means Trump’s trial will go down as nothing but a cover-up.
“They have covered up what the President of the United States has done in his grievous action when they had the the ability to find out more,” Bernstein said. “This is a cover-up, plain and simple. And there has been no attempt throughout this proceeding by the Republicans in this Senate of the United States — the so-called ‘world’s greatest deliberative body,’ which we now can see how deliberative it is — that we have seen now a really shameful episode in our history that’s going to read down for many, many years.”
The Washington Post reports: On Thursday, Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) said she will break with Republican leadership and vote to hear witnesses. But Collins still needs three other Republicans to vote with her if new evidence is to be allowed and it was unclear late Thursday night who, if anyone, in the party would join her. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) was considered a possible supporter of allowing testimony, but he announced Friday that he’s ready to end the trial even though he found Trump’s behavior “inappropriate” and leave the president’s fate in the hands of voters during the upcoming election. Some Republicans said they hope the trial will be completed Friday with a vote to acquit Trump. “We still feel very positive about it,” said Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.), the third-ranking Republican leader. “More and more members are saying, ‘I’m ready to go to a final [vote]. . . . I’ve heard enough.’ ”
More on Alexander’s announcement from Slate: Alexander conceded that Trump had done what the House’s first article of impeachment accused him of doing, abusing his power as president to try to extort Ukraine into harming his political rivals, and that that was “inappropriate.” However, he wrote, it was not enough of a reason for the Senate to remove Trump from office—and since the underlying question of Trump’s actions wasn’t in doubt, there was no reason to pry loose any more evidence to prove he did it. … It was, effectively, an endorsement of the so-what-if-he-did-it defense put forward by Trump’s attorney Alan Dershowitz on Wednesday. Although Trump tried to extract something of value from Ukraine by misusing his powers of office, the House did not deliver the charge to the Senate under the title of “bribery,” which allowed Alexander to dismiss it as not rising to the level of “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors” specified in the constitution.
Following his announcement, Alexander was blasted on Twitter as “a historic coward.”