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U.S. Senators Ask Questions In Trump Trial As Vote On Witnesses Looms

Updated

White House counsel Pat Cipollone argues in defense of President Donald Trump in the Senate chamber at the U.S. Capitol building on January 28.

Day 9 of the trial on whether to remove U.S. President Donald Trump from office has resumed in the Senate, with senators challenging House of Representatives managers prosecuting the president and his defenders alike in a question-and-answer session.

As the jurors, senators have a total of 16 hours over two days to submit written questions to the seven trial managers from the House as well as to Trump's defense counsel.

The senators did not ask questions themselves but submitted them for Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, the presiding judge in the trial, to read.

After the questioning component concludes, senators are expected to vote on whether to summon or block witnesses to testify.

As of late on January 28, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Republican-Kentucky) indicated he didn't yet have the votes to stop Democrats from calling witnesses, U.S. media reported, citing the outcome of a closed-door meeting he had with colleagues.

Democrats are keen to hear in-person testimony from former national-security adviser John Bolton and perhaps others who have firsthand knowledge of Trump's dealings with Ukraine -- the focal point of the impeachment case.

In a new book, Bolton quoted Trump as telling him in August that he wanted to withhold $391 million in military aid to Ukraine until Kyiv helped by launching investigations into Democrats, including his potential election opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, and son Hunter Biden, according to The New York Times.

Trump has repeatedly denied he attempted to pressure Kyiv by withholding the aid until it announced an investigation into the Bidens.

The president’s defense team wrapped up their opening arguments on January 28, with White House counsel Pat Cipollone saying the impeachment trial "should end now, as quickly as possible."

He said the two articles of impeachment, or formal charges, passed last month by the House -- abuse of power and obstruction of Congress -- "fall short of any constitutional standard and they are dangerous."

Trump has rejected the charges as politically motivated and denied wrongdoing.

Republicans control the 100-seat chamber with 53 seats, meaning it is almost certain Trump will be acquitted. Conviction and removal from office requires a two-thirds vote in the Senate.

With reporting by NPR, CNN, AP, AFP, and Reuters
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