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Uncertainty remains over Trump trial witnesses

Video credit: Reuters Studio
Published on January 31, 2020 - Duration: 03:22s

Uncertainty remains over Trump trial witnesses

Democratic prosecutors and Republican defenders at President Donald Trump's impeachment trial on Thursday barreled toward a confrontation over new witnesses, something that would deny Trump the swift conclusion of the matter that he seeks.

Chris Dignam has more.

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Uncertainty remains over Trump trial witnesses

(SOUND BITE) (English) DEMOCRATIC HOUSE IMPEACHMENT MANAGER ADAM SCHIFF, SAYING: "Can't we take one week to hear from these witnesses?

I think we can.

I think we should.

I think we must." On the second and final day of the question-and-answer phase of President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, Democrats made a last-gasp attempt to persuade Republican senators to vote to allow witnesses.

But Republicans appeared to be leaning toward blocking the Democratic effort and bringing a quick end to the Senate impeachment trial.

(SOUND BITE) (English) WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY COUNSEL PATRICK PHILBIN, SAYING: "There's no need to go on to anything else when you've already seen so much." Trump's defense team argued senators already had enough evidence to weigh, saying Democrats themselves claimed they had an ironclad case.

(SOUND BITE) (English) WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY COUNSEL PATRICK PHILBIN, SAYING: "The House managers have consistently said over and over again... before they came here, they said they had an overwhelming case.

It was already buttoned down.

They didn't need anything else.

They said when they got here that it was proven.

Every single allegation, every line in each article of impeachment they said 'proven, proven, proven.'

So don't be taken in by the idea that we can't have a trial here, you can't have a valid proceeding unless they bring someone in here to testify live." Lead House prosecutor Adam Schiff rejected that argument and proposed limiting depositions to one week, similar to the Clinton impeachment trial.

(SOUND BITE) (English) DEMOCRATIC HOUSE IMPEACHMENT MANAGER ADAM SCHIFF, SAYING: "You know, you can imagine a scene in any courtroom in America, where before the trial begins, defense counsel for the defendant stands up and says, 'Your honor, if the prosecution case is so strong, let them prove it without witnesses.'

That's essentially what's being argued here.

Well, I will make an offer to opposing counsel, who have said that this will stretch on indefinitely if you decide to have a single witness.

Let's cabin the depositions to one week... is that too much to ask in the name of fairness?" Possible testimony from John Bolton, Trump's former national security adviser, is of particular interest... after a report said he wrote in an upcoming book that Trump told him he wanted to freeze military aid for Ukraine until it investigated his political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter - an allegation that strikes at the heart of the impeachment case against Trump.

While some Republicans said momentum was in the direction of moving toward no witnesses and an acquittal as soon as Friday... (SOUND BITE) (English) U.S. SENATOR LISA MURKOWSKI, SAYING: "I send a question to the desk." ...Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski indicated in a question for the president's lawyers that she may break with her party and vote in favor of calling additional witnesses.

(SOUND BITE) (English) U.S. CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS, SAYING: "This dispute about material facts weighs in favor of calling additional witnesses with direct knowledge.

Why should this body not call Ambassador Bolton?" Other Republican holdouts suggested they may side with Democrats and demand testimony from Bolton and other witnesses, which could inflict political damage on Trump as he looks ahead to the November election.

But the Senate is still expected to acquit the president no matter what happens, as a two-thirds majority is required to remove him from office.

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