Senate Poised To Acquit Trump As Impeachment Enters Final Phase
By Staff, Agencies
US President Donald Trump was close to ending the darkest chapter of his tumultuous presidency as the US Senate started the final phase of his impeachment trial that will very likely conclude this week with his acquittal, according to US media reports.
On Monday, the 100 senators will hear four hours of closing arguments split equally between Trump's legal team and prosecutors from the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.
The House impeached Trump in December, charging him with abusing power by pressuring Ukraine to probe political rival Joe Biden, and then obstructing their inquiry.
The Republican-controlled Senate voted on Friday not to hear from witnesses including former US National Security Adviser John Bolton, despite a strong push by Democrats and opinion polls showing most Americans wanted to hear from witnesses.
When the arguments are complete, the senators will be able to make speeches until Wednesday when a final vote will be taken to determine whether Trump is guilty of the charges and should be removed from office.
The Senate is almost certain to acquit Trump, as a two-thirds majority is required to remove him and none of its 53 Republicans have indicated they will vote to convict.
The vote on Wednesday is expected to be an end to a trial where the outcome was never seriously in doubt. While an acquittal will leave Trump still firmly entrenched in the Oval Office, the impeachment battle has renewed focus on the powers of the presidency and the power of Congress to hold a US president accountable.
Testimony from former and current government officials indicate that Trump, his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and others pressed Ukraine to announce investigations of opponents that would benefit him politically.
Trump's White House refused to cooperate in the congressional inquiry, withholding documents and key witnesses in a bruising contest with lawmakers.