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Trump impeachment trial day 11: All the latest updates

Trump impeachment trial day 11: All the latest updates
Impeachment trial of President Donald Trump enters its 11th day on Friday [File: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

The impeachment trial of US President Donald Trump may be nearing its end as the Senate prepares for a crucial vote over whether witnesses should be allowed.

Republicans have expressed confidence they can block witnesses, which could lead to an abrupt end to the trial.

The Senate was due to resume the proceedings at 1pm local time (18:00 GMT), with further arguments from Trump's legal team and the House of Representatives Democrats serving as prosecutors.

That final vote on whether to convict the Republican president could take place late on Friday or on Saturday, congressional sources said.

As the trial moves into its 11th day, here are all the latest updates as of Friday, January 31:

Jerrold Nadler, a House manager and chairman of the chamber's judiciary committee, has said he will miss the remainder of the impeachment trial to be with his wife, who has pancreatic cancer.

"I am sorry to not be able to stay in Washington for the conclusion of the Senate impeachment trial but I need to be home with my wife at this time. We have many decisions to make as a family," wrote Nadler.

"I have every faith in my colleagues and hope the Senate will do what is right," he added.

President Donald Trump asked then National Security Advisor John Bolton to help in a pressure campaign on Ukraine to extract politically damaging information on Democrats in May of 2018, Bolton wrote in a draft of his upcoming book, the New York Times reported on Friday.

Trump told Bolton to call Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to ensure that the newly elected president would meet with Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who was at the time planning a trip to Kyiv to push for the investigations, Bolton’s manuscript recounts, according to the newspaper.

The president gave the command during a meeting that included Giuliani, White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and White House lawyer Pat Cipollone, who is leading the president’s impeachment defence team.

The meeting reportedly detailed by Bolton is the earliest known evidence of Trump’s involvement in using the government to push for his own political interest in Ukraine, and, if accurate, shows that top Trump officials had early knowledge of the campaign.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he found it "disturbing" that some closely watched Republicans have said they will not vote for witnesses in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, but added the results of a vote is still an "open question".

If witnesses are not allowed "this country is headed towards the greatest cover up since Watergate," Schumer said, referencing the scandal that lead to the resignation of former President Richard Nixon.

The vote on new evidence will be the difference between "seeking the truth or covering it up, between a fair trial and a farce, between country and party," Schumer said.

Republican US Senator Mitt Romney will vote in favour of allowing witnesses to testify, his spokeswoman said.

Romney had previously been the only Republican senator to say he wanted to hear testimony from former National Security Advisor John Bolton - one of four witnesses requested previously by Democrats. Republican Susan Collins, on Thursday, said in a tweet that she would also vote for witnesses.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo became the highest-ranking US official to visit Ukraine since the impeachment process began last year and addressed the military aid at the heart of the impeachment inquiry on Friday.

"The support that this administration has provided, and we talk about the assistance, that's important, it's certainly helpful for the Ukrainian people and it makes the difference for [the] United States as well, and to our benefits as well," Pompeo said at a news conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

"But what really matters is the relationship that's developing between the two counties, politically and diplomatically, commercially and economically," he added.

Democrats were served a significant blow on Thursday after Republican Senator Lamar Alexander, considered a possible and key swing vote, said he would not vote to hear from new witnesses.

"I worked with other senators to make sure that we have the right to ask for more documents and witnesses, but there is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven and that does not meet the U.S. Constitution's high bar for an impeachable offense," Alexander tweeted.

On Wednesday, Senators Martha McSally and Cory Gardner, Republicans facing re-election in swing states, also said they would not vote for more witnesses.

Only three Republicans appear to be possible swing votes at this point, with only two having explicitly said they support hearing from new witnesses. If all three vote with Democrats, it would create a 50-50 tie. If Chief Justice John Roberts does not intervene to break the tie, the vote would fail to meet the majority needed to call more witnesses.

Read more about the key players in the impeachment trial of President Trump here.

Seven Democratic House managers presented the case for removing President Trump from office.

With Democrats largely posing questions to House managers and Republicans largely posing questions to Trump's defence, the questions period of the trial spanning Wednesday and Thursday largely gave both sides the chance to shore up their arguments and rebut their opponents.

On Thursday, Chief Justice John Roberts refused to read a question from Republican Senator Rand Paul that included the name of a person that right-wing media have accused of being the whistle-blower. Paul denied the question was meant to out the whistle-blower. Read more about Thursday's proceedings here.

As the 11th day of the impeachment trial begins, catch up on what has happened over the last two weeks.

The trial officially began with a ceremonial start on January 16 that saw the swearing-in of Chief Justice Roberts, who is presiding over the proceedings, and the 100 members of the Senate.

The next week began with nearly 12 hours of debate culminating in senators voting along partisan lines to approve Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's rules resolution. Meanwhile, 11 amendments introduced by Democrats were blocked. Read more about that day here.

The Democratic House managers then presented their arguments for three days on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, followed by Trump's defence arguments on Saturday, Monday , and Tuesday.

SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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