WASHINGTON John Bolton wont be dropping any truth bombs on President Trump in the Senate impeachment trial after all.
And neither will anyone else.
The Senate voted against calling witnesses Friday, making Trumps the first of over a dozen Senate impeachment proceeding in U.S. history to go 100% witness free. Moments before the vote took place, a GOP moderate blasted her own Republican-controlled Senate for failing to ensure a fair trial as justification for prolonging the hearings any further.
The chamber killed the motion with a vote of 51-49. Only two Republicans joined Democrats to vote for witnesses: Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine.
The result sets the stage for Trumps impeachment drama to wind down within just a few hours or days, after the final niceties, debates, and speeches wrap up. Having failed to convert even the four Republicans they needed to score fresh testimony or documents, Democrats look dead-certain to lose the big, final vote to boot Trump out of office, too.
The ultimate failure of Trumps impeachment was likely always inevitable. But Democrats still hoped for witnesses. Theyd set their hopes highest on Bolton, Trumps ultra-conservative former national security advisor, whose leaked book manuscript reportedly recounts damning conversations with Trump about getting Ukraine to roll out an investigation of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
READ: President Trump is Very Mad at John Bolton
Such testimony from Bolton would have fed directly into Democrats impeachment case against Trump. The House of Representatives impeached Trump in December for abusing his office by pressuring Ukraine to investigate Biden, and for then blocking the congressional investigation into what happened.
Boltons book says Trump explicitly stated that he wanted to continue a freeze on vital military aid to Ukraine, a nation locked in a brutal war with Russia-backed separatists, until Ukraine announced the investigations Trump wanted, according to The New York Times.
On Friday, the Times reported that Trump asked Bolton to help with his pressure campaign to extract damaging information on Democrats from Ukrainian officials, by arranging for Ukraines president to meet with Trumps lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
Democrats have blasted Bolton for signaling his willingness to testify about big moments in the Ukraine scandal without coming forward to actually say his piece in public.
It will be very difficult for him to explain to the country why he saved it for the book, Rep. Adam Schiff, the House Democrat leading the charge against Trump, told senators on Friday. And he berated GOP senators for failing to call Bolton: I would submit to you, it will be equally difficult for you to explain as it will be for him.
The failure of the witness vote became all but certain by Friday afternoon after two Republicans whod once been seen as possible rebels folded and agreed to join their own leadership: Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
Alexander said that no new testimony is needed because Democrats had proved their case with a mountain of overwhelming evidence.
Murkowski called the Senate trial a sham that wasnt work dragging out.
I have come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate, she wrote in a blistering statement Friday. I dont believe the continuation of this process will change anything.
The vote against witnesses made Trumps Senate impeachment trial something of a historical oddity: The Senate has held 15 impeachment trials before, according to Politifact, and all of them featured witnesses.
Most of those proceedings concerned the removal of judges. But two were presidential impeachments.
Former President Andrew Johnsons Senate impeachment trial involved 41 witnesses, while the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton in the late 1990s featured three witnesses. Clintons Senate trial included taped testimony of former White House intern Monika Lewinsky, whose affair with Clinton was a key moment in the case that revolved around Clintons lies under oath about their relationship.
The Senates refusal to hear witnesses against Trump on Friday prompted Lewinsky to joke that it was too bad she had to testify in the Clinton impeachment, because, i mean, talk about unflattering lighting and having a bad hair day.
Cover: WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 29: In this screengrab taken from a Senate Television webcast, Chief Justice John Roberts receives a question from a senator during impeachment proceedings against U.S. President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol on January 29, 2020 in Washington, DC. Senators have 16 hours to submit written questions to the House managers and the President’s defense team. (Photo by Senate Television via Getty Images)