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WASHINGTON, Jan 30 — A Democratic push to force Republicans to accept witnesses at Donald Trump's impeachment trial in the US Senate appeared to be flagging yesterday, raising the possibility the president could be acquitted as early as tomorrow.
As senators spent the day posing questions to both the Trump legal team and the Democratic managers of the trial, the White House objected to the planned publication of a book by former national security adviser John Bolton in which he is said to have depicted Trump as playing a central role in pressuring Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden.
US Senator John Barrasso, the No. 3 Republican in seniority, said it was possible the trial could end tomorrow without Democrats achieving their goal of having witnesses called to testify.
“The momentum is clearly in the direction of moving to final judgment on Friday. That vote will be Friday. We still have a couple members who said they want to listen to the answers to questions, but that's where the momentum is,” Barrasso said.
Asked when tomorrow the vote might take place to settle the debate over witnesses and move to either acquit or convict Trump, Barrasso said probably tomorrow afternoon or late that day.
Other Republican senators were predicting a similar outcome in conversations with reporters during breaks in the trial yesterday.
Democrats have sought to persuade at least four Republican senators to vote with them in favor of witnesses to assure a majority vote in the Republican-controlled 100-seat Senate. The Democratic-led House of Representatives approved the two articles of impeachment in December.
While the Senate is expected to acquit Trump and leave him in office no matter what happens, allowing witnesses such as Bolton could inflict political damage on the president as he seeks re-election on November 3.
Bolton left the White House in September after several sharp disagreements with Trump over the direction of foreign policy.
The New York Times has reported that he wrote in his book that the president told him he wanted to freeze US$391 million (RM1.6 billion) in security aid to Ukraine until Kiev pursued investigations into Democrats, including Biden and the former vice president's son, Hunter. — Reuters
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