One hundred senators will cast votes on Feb. 5 in the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump, bringing the months-long process to a close.
The impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives started in September and culminated with the impeachment of Trump by the Democrat-controlled House in December. The impeachment trial started last month in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Because a supermajority of 67 votes is required to convict Trump on the articles of impeachment, a conviction, or removal from office, is considered unlikely. Trump, 73, is expected to be acquitted in the vote, which will start at 4 p.m.
Republicans hold the Senate 53-47. No Republicans in the House voted to impeach Trump and four Democrats either voted “present” or voted against at least one article. One of the four, Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, later switched to the Republican Party over the impeachment push.
Trump was impeached for abuse of office and obstruction of Congress. Democrats say he acted inappropriately when in July he asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to “look into” corruption allegations in the country surrounding Joe Biden and Hunter Biden.
Hunter Biden, 49, sat on the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company, from 2014 to 2019. Joe Biden, 77, led U.S. policy in Ukraine for several years. In 2016, Biden said in 2018, he threatened to withhold $1 billion in aid from Ukraine unless the leadership ousted Viktor Shokin, a prosecutor who was probing Burisma.
Shokin was forced to resign and the probe into Burisma was closed. Zelensky’s administration re-opened the probe last year.
Both Bidens have denied wrongdoing. Trump has also said he did nothing wrong.
Democrats tried to link a pause that Trump put on congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine to the requested investigations but struggled to substantiate a link the two. Ukrainian and American officials, including Zelensky, have said Ukraine wasn’t aware of the hold on the aid at the time of the phone call.
Many Republicans have said Trump did nothing wrong. Some moderate Republican senators said that Trump acted wrongly but his actions didn’t warrant impeachment.
Trump’s actions, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), 62, said on the Senate floor on Feb. 3, were “shameful and wrong.”
But removing the president from office would be “the political death penalty.”
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), 79, said during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” over the weekend that he would also vote to acquit. He said Trump would think twice after the president’s call with Zelensky was placed in the spotlight.
“If a call like this gets you an impeachment, I would think he would think twice before he did it again,” said Alexander, who is retiring after this year.
And Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), 67, days after she voted to call witnesses in the trial—a motion that fell 49-51—said she would vote to acquit.
“I believe that the president has learned from this case,” Collins told CBS News on Feb. 4.
The impeachment by the House served as “a pretty big lesson” for Trump, Collins claimed. I believe that he will be much more cautious in the future.”
“I’m voting to acquit. Because I do not believe that the behavior alleged reaches the high bar in the Constitution for overturning an election and removing a duly elected president,” she said.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), 72, is believed to be the only Republican who could vote to remove Trump from office. Romney was expected to give a speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday.
Several Democrats could join Republicans in voting to acquit Trump but none have so far said they would.
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Author: Zachary Stieber