Impeachment closing arguments to begin Friday afternoon


Senate Republicans are planning for four hours of closing arguments in President Trump’s impeachment trial starting Friday afternoon.

The arguments, presented by both the House managers and Trump's defense team, would be followed by a vote on whether to call additional witnesses and then a final up-or-down vote on the two articles of impeachment.

Republicans are aiming to wrap up the trial proceedings late Friday evening or early Saturday morning, depending on how long Democrats drag out the final vote by offering amendments to the motion to move to a final vote, said Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Barrasso (Wyo.).

Under the organizing resolution adopted by the Senate last week, House impeachment managers and Trump’s defense team will each have two hours. Previous impeachment trials have allocated four hours for closing arguments.

“My understanding is essentially the closing arguments are going to be two hours for each side tomorrow afternoon, probably starting at 1 o’clock, until we’re finished with that. Then the vote would occur on the issue of witnesses,” Barrasso said at a brief press conference Thursday during a 20-minute break in the trial.

“If we are able to say, ‘No, we want to go right now to final judgment,’ then we would move in that direction and stay here until that work is decided and completed Friday evening,” he added.

Senate Republicans say they’re confident they will be able to defeat a motion to consider and debate motions for subpoenas of additional witnesses and documents.

If the motion fails on a largely party-line vote, as expected, then it will not be in order to consider subpoenas of former national security adviser John Bolton, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and other witnesses demanded by Democrats.

Asked if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will move immediately to an up-or-down vote on the articles of impeachment if a motion to allow additional debate and consideration of subpoenas fails, as is expected, Barrasso said, “That’s where all the momentum is right now.”

Barrasso, however, said that Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) could delay the final up-or-down vote by offering amendments to the motion.

He said GOP senators are committed to stay in session to table Schumer’s motion until a final vote on the articles of impeachment.

“There may be a motion that Sen. Schumer can offer amendments just like he did that first day when he introduced like 11 amendments,” Barrasso said, referring to Democrats’ effort to prolong the consideration of the organizing resolution that the Senate eventually adopted at 2 a.m. on Jan. 22.

“At some point, the Democrats will realize their motions will be defeated,” he said.

A senior Democratic aide said McConnell will likely have to advance a resolution to set the roadmap for the end of the trial akin to the organizing resolution that set up phase one.

One Democratic senator familiar with internal discussions said Schumer will not allow the final up-or-down vote to take place without a drawn-out floor fight.

“We’re thinking about those options, whether we can change the rule, what kind of motions we’re going to make. We’re are not going quietly into that good night,” the lawmaker said.

Democrats offered 11 amendments to the organizing resolution that were defeated on party-line votes. Republicans suffered only one defection when Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) voted to give the parties more time to respond to each other’s briefs.

A growing number of senators on both sides of the aisle are expecting the trial to be finished by late Friday night or early Saturday morning.

Some senators have already booked plane tickets out of Washington for Saturday morning, according to a senator familiar with colleagues' travel plans.

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