Senate Impeachment Trial to Debate, Vote on Witnesses, Documents

Senators will get another eight hours Thursday to question House managers and President Trump’s defense team in the impeachment trial.

But the debate over whether they’ll get a chance to call witnesses still looms.

Senators kicked off the question-and-answer phase of the trial Wednesday. They submitted written questions, which were read by Chief Justice John Roberts, who is overseeing the trial.

As was expected, the most unsettled question is whether to allow witnesses like former National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Leaks of an upcoming book by Bolton could spell trouble for President Trump’s defense.

In the book, Bolton claims the president ordered a hold on military aid to Ukraine until the country agreed to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

Rep. Adam Schiff, lead House impeachment manager, said, “Don’t wait for the book. Don’t wait til March 17th when it is in black and white to find out the answer to your question—was it all the motive, some of the motive or none of the motive? And we think, as I mentioned, the answer is abundantly clear without John Bolton. But if you have any question about it, you can erase all doubt.”

The president’s defense team maintains he did nothing wrong and they argue allowing witnesses in the trial would set a bad precedent.

“What is the precedent that is going to be set for what is an acceptable way for the House of Representatives to bring an impeachment of a President of the United States to this chamber and can it be done in a hurried, half-baked, partisan fashion without—they didn’t even subpoena John Bolton below. They didn’t even try to get his testimony,” says Patrick Philbin, deputy counsel to the president.

Senators will have another eight hours Thursday to question both sides.

After, they will get four hours to debate whether the Senate should allow witnesses and documents.

Then they will vote on the issue.

If senators are split, Chief Justice Roberts would have to decide whether to cast the tie-breaking vote.