The Senate voted largely along party lines, 51 to 49, to not seek more witnesses or documents in President Trump’s impeachment trial, setting the stage for a vote to acquit the commander in chief.
Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah were the only Republicans joining all Democrats in voting for more witnesses.
“The motion is not agreed to,” Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the trial, said after the historic vote, which took place at about 5:40 p.m.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted that the Senate did not need new evidence to reach a decision.
“A majority of the US Senate has determined that the numerous witnesses and 28,000-plus pages of documents already in evidence are sufficient to judge the House Managers’ accusations and end this impeachment trial,” the Kentucky Republican wrote.
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called it “a sham trial.”
“It had no witnesses, no documents. A tragedy on a very large scale,” the New York Democrat fumed before leaving the chamber to huddle with his caucus.
McConnell called a recess after Friday’s vote. It was unclear when the vote on the two articles of impeachment would take place.
The vote on witnesses came after a key Republican senator — Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — said she would not vote for more witnesses.
“The House chose to send articles of impeachment that are rushed and flawed. I carefully considered the need for additional witnesses and documents, to cure the shortcomings of its process, but ultimately decided that I will vote against considering motions to subpoena,” she said, even as Democrats continued arguing that a trial without witnesses or documentary evidence was fatally flawed.
Senate Democrats needed to persuade at least four Republicans to vote with them in order to call witnesses such as John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser, and secure documents the White House has withheld.
But Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who was believed to have been on the fence, said late Thursday that the Democrats had proven the case against Trump but that Trump’s actions did “not meet the United States Constitution’s high bar for an impeachable offense.”
The Democratic-controlled House impeached Trump in December, charging him with abuse of power for asking Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden while also withholding congressionally approved security aid for Ukraine. The president has denied any linkage between the two.
The House also charged Trump with obstruction of Congress for blocking officials from providing testimony or documents.
Before Friday’s vote, the Democrats prosecuting Trump and the president’s lawyers their delivered closing arguments.
The Senate will now move toward a final vote that is all but certain to acquit Trump. A two-thirds majority is needed to convict, requiring some 20 Republicans to defect.
With Wire Services