Democratic senators say there's no need for witnesses in Trump impeachment trial

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Nicholas Wu, USA TODAY
·3 min read
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WASHINGTON – Democratic senators said Thursday there was no need for the Senate to call witnesses at former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, hinting at a possible early end to the trial as Trump's team prepares to begin its opening arguments Friday.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said the Senate had heard from enough people through “interviews and video presentation” played during three days of trial.

“I feel like we've heard from enough witnesses," she said.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said Trump could come and "give his explanation of the day," but "otherwise, it feels like to me we're done."

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, who caucuses with Democrats, said, “I think the case has been made. I don’t know what witnesses would add.”

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The question of whether the Senate will hear from witnesses has hung over the trial, which started Tuesday. If the chamber does hear from witnesses, the proceedings could be extended possibly for weeks, but if they aren't heard, some lawmakers said a vote on Trump's conviction or acquittal could come as soon as this weekend.

Democratic reluctance to witnesses could signal the chamber may not have the votes to call someone to testify, thus ushering in an early end to the trial. The Senate, which is split 50-50 between Republican and Democratic caucus members, requires a simple majority to hear a witness if prosecutors call for one and Republicans have indicated they don't want to hear from witnesses. Republican senators have argued calling witnesses would prolong the trial and would not add more to the case.

The Democratic lawmakers prosecuting the impeachment case, known as managers, asked Trump last week to come and testify, but he declined their request. The trial rules allow for a vote on witnesses if House managers ask for one.

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Managers ended their two days of opening arguments Thursday, setting up Trump's defense team to begin its presentation Friday. After senators question the prosecution and defense, the impeachment managers can request a vote on requesting witnesses and documents.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said it would be up to the managers to decide whether they wanted witnesses to testify.

"We let the managers make the decisions and I try to implement them," he said.

The managers, for their part, indicated their case had been made.

Asked whether her team had made a decision on calling witnesses, Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., one of the impeachment managers, told reporters, "The American people witnessed this. The senators witnessed this."

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump impeachment trial: Democratic senators say no need for witnesses