WASHINGTON — After spending nearly two weeks confined to their desks and forbidden from speaking, senators took turns on the Senate floor on Tuesday announcing whether they planned to vote to convict or acquit President Trump when they render a verdict on Wednesday in the third presidential impeachment trial in the nation’s history.
The bitterly divided Senate is all but certain to acquit Mr. Trump on both charges facing him — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. It would take a two-thirds vote, or 67 senators, to convict and remove him, a threshold that neither side expects to materialize.
Mr. Trump is accused of pressuring Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 presidential campaign on his behalf, by withholding military aid and a White House meeting to lean on the country to investigate his political rivals. The impeachment trial was not formally meeting on Tuesday, ahead of Mr. Trump’s State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. But their comments on Tuesday were the last opportunity for senators to explain their positions before voting on the verdict, and they appeared to be aimed at their constituents, their core supporters, and in some cases, the president himself.
Here’s what they said.
McConnell blasts Trump’s impeachment as ‘dangerous.’
Taking a victory lap for what he called the “sober and stable Senate,” Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, issued a stern rebuke of the House Democrats’ case and strategy, casting it as a politically motivated attack that amounted to the “most rushed, least fair and least thorough presidential impeachment inquiry in American history.”
“Washington Democrats think President Donald Trump committed a high crime or misdemeanor the moment he defeated Hillary Clinton,” Mr. McConnell said, referring to the president’s victory in 2016. “That is the original sin of this presidency: that he won and they lost.”
In his most detailed remarks on the impeachment managers’ case to date, Mr. McConnell undercut an argument that the White House defense team had presented: that impeachment requires the violation of a criminal statue. But while Mr. McConnell said he did not subscribe to that legal theory, he condemned House Democrats all the same for sailing into “new and dangerous waters.”
Schumer says the Senate trial ‘fails the laugh test.’
Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, spoke only briefly, to rebut what he called the majority leader’s talking points.
Defending the House managers’ case as “compelling,” Mr. Schumer denounced Senate Republicans for blocking his motion to consider hearing from additional witnesses — including John R. Bolton, the president’s former national security adviser who had offered to testify — and receive more evidence. The trial they created, he said, “fails the laugh test.”
“The Republicans refused to get the evidence because they were afraid of what it would show,” Mr. Schumer said, “and that’s all that needs to be said.”