Senate rejects motion to allow witnesses in impeachment trial

On January 31, 2020, the U.S. Senate rejected a motion to allow witnesses and documents to be subpoenaed in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump by a vote of 51 to 49.

• All 47 Democrats and two independents (Sens. Angus King and Bernie Sanders) voted yes.
• 2 Republicans (Sens. Susan Collins and Mitt Romney) also voted yes.
• The other 51 Republicans voted no.

A final vote is expected on Wednesday to convict or acquit Trump of the impeachment charges.

The United States Congress has the constitutional authority to impeach and remove a federal official from office—including the president—if he or she has committed an impeachable offense. Impeaching and removing an official has two stages. First, articles of impeachment against the official must be passed by a majority vote of the U.S. House of Representatives. Then, a trial is conducted in the United States Senate potentially leading to the conviction and removal of the official.

In most impeachment trials, the vice president presides over the trial. However, in impeachment trials of the president, the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court presides. In order to remove the person from office, two-thirds of senators that are present to vote must vote to convict on the articles of impeachment.