Ohio Sen. Portman to vote against calling witnesses in impeachment trial

U.S. Senator Rob Portman, R-Ohio, says he will vote against calling witnesses or allowing more documents in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

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“I do not believe that additional witnesses are needed,” Portman said in a statement on Friday. “I have said consistently for the past four months, since the Zelensky transcript was first released, that I believe that some of the president’s actions in this case – including asking a foreign country to investigate a potential political opponent and the delay of aid to Ukraine – were wrong and inappropriate. But I do not believe that the president’s actions rise to the level of removing a duly-elected president from office and taking him off the ballot in the middle of an election.”

President Trump appeared headed for all-but-certain impeachment acquittal as senators prepared on Friday to reject efforts to call more witnesses and moved to start bringing a close to the third impeachment trial in American history.

The timing of a final vote on Trump was still uncertain. The Senate gaveled opened with four hours set for arguments on the question of calling more witnesses.

“I also believe that processing additional witnesses will take weeks if not months, and it’s time for the House and Senate to get back to addressing the issues the American people are most concerned about,” Portman said.

The outcome of a vote to allow witnesses was increasingly clear after a key Republican, Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, announced he didn’t need to see or hear more testimony.

"There is no need to consider further the frivolous second article of impeachment that would remove the president for asserting his constitutional prerogative to protect confidential conversations with his close advisers," Alexander said.

Voting on the witness question was expected late Friday after hours of debate, with other votes stretching well into the evening. The timing was not set.

Democrats warned the outcome won’t mean a true acquittal for Trump but a cover-up.

“They’re about to dismiss this with a shrug and a ‘Who cares?’” said the Senate’s third-ranking Democrat, Patty Murray of Washington. “The full truth will come out.”

Sen. Portman said the Democrats cas was “flawed.”

“House Democrats sent the Senate a flawed case built on what respected law professor Jonathan Turley calls ‘the shortest proceeding, with the thinnest evidentiary record, and the narrowest grounds ever used to impeach a president.’ Instead of using the tools available to compel the Administration to produce documents and witnesses, the House followed a self-imposed and entirely political deadline for voting on these articles of impeachment by Christmas, only to inexplicably stall for 28 days – time they could have used to subpoena witnesses and resolve privilege claims,” Portman said.

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