Democrat impeachment prosecutors have one last chance to speak on the Senate stage, but with Donald Trump sure to be acquitted this week, their main task will be to convince 2020 voters that he doesn’t deserve to be re-elected.
The seven House managers began making their case on the same day Democratic voters caucus in Iowa to pick the candidate best suited to unseat Trump in November. Four of those candidates will be stuck in the Senate chamber for much of the day, hampering their final pitches to voters.
Representatives Jason Crow and Val Demings led the impeachment managers’ case, appealing to the Senate’s responsibility to ensure that the president isn’t above to law and to protect the integrity of the 2020 election.
Trump “remains unapologetic, unrestrained and intent on continuing his sham to defraud our elections,” Demings said.
Monday is also the last chance for Trump’s defense team to argue that Democrats’ impeachment inquiry was a partisan exercise and the president’s actions regarding Ukraine don’t merit removal from office. Almost all GOP senators have thoroughly embraced this message, echoing both points last week as the trial moved into the final stages, without calling any additional witnesses.
Trump’s lawyers will be making his case the day before the president will deliver the last State of the Union address of his first term. In his Tuesday speech, Trump will be addressing both the prosecutors and the jurors in the trial that won’t wrap up until the following day.
On Monday, House Democrats and Trump’s defense team have two hours each for their closing arguments. Then the impeachment court will adjourn until 4 p.m. Wednesday for the final vote on the House’s two articles of impeachment -- alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. In the meantime, the Senate floor will be open for senators to explain their votes on witnesses or the ultimate verdict.
All eyes will be on three Democrats who have said they aren’t decided: Doug Jones of Alabama, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. A vote for acquittal from any of them hands Trump a chance to say his reprieve was bipartisan.
Jones said Monday that he’s still undecided. Manchin said the same Friday evening, telling reporters he will go to the floor Wednesday and vote without any advance announcement.
“I swear to God, I won’t know until I walk in,” Manchin said. “I know it’s hard to believe, but that’s a fact.”
Not a single Republican has said they would vote to remove Trump from office. Only two GOP senators -- Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah -- said the Senate trial should seek more evidence.
With 67 votes needed to convict, Trump is expected to be easily acquitted, even after some Republican senators allowed that he erred in his dealings with Ukraine.
Senator Lamar Alexander said Trump crossed a line by withholding nearly $400 million in U.S. military aid to the nation as a way to “encourage” an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, who is also seeking the 2020 nomination. But Alexander said voters, not senators, should decide what to do about it.
“I’m going to vote to acquit. I’m very concerned about any action that we could take that would establish a perpetual impeachment,” the Tennessee Republican who’s retiring this year said Sunday on NBC.
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