(PM) — With statements from key Republicans late on Thursday, it’s very likely that there are not enough votes in the U.S. Senate to push for witnesses, meaning that the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump is likely to come to an end with an acquittal on Friday evening.
Though GOP Senators Mitt Romney and Susan Collins said that they would vote in favour of further witnesses, a statement from Senator Lamar Alexander saying he would vote “no” to calling further witnesses means Democrats do not have the simple majority required.
“The chances of additional witnesses has plummeted,” Senator Ted Cruz told Fox News following Alexander’s decision, considered one of the Republican representatives most likely to flip if the vote went in favour of witnesses.
Democrats argue that witnesses are critical in the trial, especially former national security advisor to the president John Bolton.
The New York Times revealed on Jan. 26 that Bolton claims in an unpublished book Trump told him in August that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens.
The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives impeached Trump in December, officially accusing him of abuse of power for pressuring Ukraine in an alleged quid pro quo to investigate the Bidens. The president was also charged with obstruction of Congress after instructing witnesses not to testify.
Two-thirds of all senators are needed to convict and remove the president but the Republican-majority chamber is highly unlikely to vote in favour of removal and will instead are expected to vote in an acquittal, leaving Trump in office ahead of the 2020 presidential election.