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U.S. Senate appears poised to acquit Trump after trial

Video credit: Reuters Studio
Published on February 4, 2020 - Duration: 03:04s

U.S. Senate appears poised to acquit Trump after trial

The long days of lawyers arguing for and against the impeachment of U.S. President Donald Trump are over.

Now it is up to U.S. senators from both major parties to present their rationale for acquitting or convicting him.

Zachary Goelman reports.

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U.S. Senate appears poised to acquit Trump after trial

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF, SAYING: "They gave you a remedy, and they meant for you to use it." A day after Democrats mustered every argument at their disposal to persuade senators that President Donald Trump should be convicted and removed from office, and a day before the impeachment trial is set to end, the likely result appears as foregone a conclusion as it did they day the impeachment inquiry began.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. REPUBLICAN SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL, SAYING: "Vote to acquit the president of these charges." The Republican-controlled Senate seems ready to acquit the 45th president of charges he abused his power and obstructed Congress.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. REPUBLICAN SENATOR LISA MURKOWSKI OF ALASKA, SAYING: "The president's behavior was shameful and wrong." Some members of the president's own party conceded in varying degrees that Trump engaged in misconduct.

But even a so-called moderate Republican, such as Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, said on Monday she did not believe removing an elected president in an election year was the right course of action.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. REPUBLICAN SENATOR LISA MURKOWSKI OF ALASKA, SAYING: "The response to the president's behavior is not to disenfranchise nearly 63 million Americans and remove him from the ballot." Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said that even if the president had committed the misconduct Democrats allege, removal was too harsh a punishment.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. REPUBLICAN SENATOR MARCO RUBIO OF FLORIDA, SAYING: "My argument is even if everything they allege they had proven it true, it does not rise to the level of the kind of offense that you would remove a president from office." Democrats accused Trump of trying to pressure the government of Ukraine into announcing corruption probes potentially damaging to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, and of stonewalling Congress's investigation into the alleged scheme.

The president's attorneys argued the Democrats failed to prove their case, and that the Senate owed it to the voters to acquit the president.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL PAT CIPPOLONE, SAYING: "We know you will put your faith in the American people.

You will leave this choice to them where it belongs." The impeachment effort was spearheaded by Democratic Representative Adam Schiff, who used his closing argument on Monday to demand Congress use an extreme measure to remove a president he called a threat to national security.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF, SAYING: "When the president tries to coerce an ally to help him cheat in our elections and then covers it up.

We must say, 'enough.'

Enough." And after all the testimony and efforts to persuade one side or the other, the final vote on Wednesday could come down to cold political calculation.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC SENATOR JOE MANCHIN, SAYING: "I remain undecided on how I will vote." Democratic Senators from Republican-leaning states where Trump is popular, such as Joe Manchin of West Virginia, seemed caught between their party and their hopes for reelection.

Manchin on Monday said he wanted the opportunity to vote to censure the president without voting to remove him.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC SENATOR JOE MANCHIN OF WEST VIRGINIA, SAYING: "His behavior cannot go unchecked by the Senate, and censure would allow a bipartisan statement condemning his unacceptable behavior in the strongest terms." Democrat Doug Jones of Alabama was tight-lipped about how he planned to vote.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC SENATOR DOUG JONES OF ALABAMA, SAYING: "I'm not going to tell you." And he offered this somewhat fatalistic take on the arguments over impeachment: (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC SENATOR DOUG JONES OF ALABAMA, SAYING: "Overall, I don't think that they persuaded anybody.

I think votes for most people were pretty much locked in.

They were persuasive, but I don't think they persuaded too many people." A final vote to convict or acquit Trump is set for Wednesday.

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