Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the US House of Representatives has accused lawmakers that voted against witnesses appearing at Donald Trump’s impeachment trial of being the president’s accomplices. The 79-year-old said Republicans were part of Trump’s “cover-up” after the Senate voted 51-49 to bar witnesses’ testimonies during the impeachment investigation.
The investigation saw several government officials testifying in the House, but Democrats wished to question people close to Trump hoping that their testimony would undermine arguments made by the president’s lawyers and possibly result in Trump’s removal from office. However, only two Republicans – Susan Collins and Mitt Romney voted to approve witnesses.
Lisa Murkowski, Republican from Alaska, who was considered a swing vote on the witness measure, commented on her decision saying: “The House chose to send articles of impeachment that are rushed and flawed. I carefully considered the need for additional witnesses and documents, to cure the shortcomings of its process, but ultimately decided that I will vote against considering motions to subpoena".
Republican Senator from Tennessee Lamar Alexander noted that although evidence presented by the Democrats showed the president’s actions were inappropriate, it “does not meet the United States Constitution’s high bar for an impeachable offence”.
Protesters gathered at Capitol Hill following the vote on witnesses. Demonstrators shouted shame as they condemned lawmakers’ decision to not allow witnesses to testify at the impeachment trial.
Commenting on the trial, President Trump accused Democrats of being unfair saying they had 17 witnesses, while Republicans were denied this measure, referring to Democrats’ refusal to allow Joe Biden and his son Hunter testify during the trial.
The Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats keep chanting “fairness”, when they put on the most unfair Witch Hunt in the history of the U.S. Congress. They had 17 Witnesses, we were allowed ZERO, and no lawyers. They didn’t do their job, had no case. The Dems are scamming America!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 31, 2020
What Happens Next?
The vote undermines Democrats’ chances of removing Donald Trump from office as he is set to be acquitted by lawmakers in a final vote, which is scheduled for 5 February. A two-thirds majority is needed to convict Trump on two articles of impeachment, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The Senate is controlled by Republicans, who signalled that they would defend the president.
Donald Trump was accused of pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden, his political rival in the 2020 election and his son Hunter for corruption and threatened to withdraw $391 million in military aid to Ukraine if his counterpart refused. Trump strongly denies any wrongdoing and his legal team argues that the impeachment trial is Democrats’ attempt to delegitimise his presidency.