Senate Impeachment Trial Status: Closing Arguments Up Next

Feb 3, 2020
Originally published on February 3, 2020 10:11 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Rachel and I are in Des Moines covering tonight's caucuses in Iowa. The presidential campaign season is officially beginning here. Democrats are determined to defeat President Trump, who is likely to be celebrating a major victory.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Right. Months of impeachment hearings and a Senate trial over the Ukraine scandal end this week, and the outcome looks certain - President Donald Trump is likely to be acquitted.

GREENE: Closing arguments come today in Washington, then a final vote is Wednesday, though the president has a chance to talk about exoneration when he gives his State of the Union speech tomorrow. And let's bring in NPR's Tim Mak, who's been covering this in Washington. Tim, hello from Iowa.

TIM MAK, BYLINE: Hey there.

GREENE: So the impeachment trial getting going again today, but things feel sort of like a foregone conclusion. So explain exactly what's going to happen this week.

MAK: Well, the House impeachment managers and the president's defense team will be given two hours each to make closing arguments starting at 11:00 Eastern today. Then senators will be given until Wednesday to give speeches, and many of them will want to lay out why they voted the way they did on witnesses and explain their views on the trial more broadly.

On Wednesday, at 4 p.m., the Senate is scheduled to vote on whether to convict or acquit the president on those two articles of impeachment. Because 67 votes are required to convict and remove the president and there's no sign of a large number of Republicans turning against him, the outcome seems all but certain.

GREENE: You mentioned the decision about witnesses. I mean, that all-important close vote came to decide not to have more witnesses. I mean, do Democrats have any options left at all?

MAK: Well, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff is keeping his options on the table for future investigations. Remember - former National Security Adviser John Bolton has indicated he could be willing to testify if subpoenaed. He mentioned that in reference to the Senate. But this is still a possibility in the House if he's subpoenaed. And he has a book coming out in March. Here's what Schiff told CBS' "Face The Nation."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FACE THE NATION")

ADAM SCHIFF: I don't want to comment to this point on what our plans may or may not be with respect to John Bolton. But I will say this - so whether it's in testimony before the House or it's in his book or it's in one form or another, the truth will come out as - will continue to come out.

MAK: So while the impeachment trial may be winding down, the investigations into the Trump administration may not be.

GREENE: So Tim, Rachel and I are in Iowa. We saw the president here. Vice President Pence was here. And of course, we have a lot of Democrats who are saying that their singular focus is getting President Trump out of office. Now that this impeachment trial is coming to an end - he's got a State of the Union speech tomorrow, maybe to talk about exoneration - could this change the 2020 campaign in some way?

MAK: Well, the trial will be still ongoing when the president gives his State of the Union address on Tuesday, but it will give him a chance in a real prime-time stage to talk about impeachment if he wants to and an opportunity, as you mentioned, to talk about what he may see as an exoneration.

GREENE: That is NPR's Tim Mak covering the final stage of the impeachment trial in Washington resuming today. Tim, thanks, as always.

MAK: Thanks a lot. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.