Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) put the Democrats one vote closer to calling additional witnesses late Thursday night after the Senate adjourned, announcing she will vote with them on Friday.

Minutes later another closely watched Republican, Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), made it unlikely the vote will pass, but could tie if all members of the Democratic caucus and two more Republicans vote yes.

Senators reconvened for a second day of questions to House impeachment managers and President Trump’s lawyers ahead of a crucial vote expected Friday on whether to call witnesses to testify about the president’s conduct toward Ukraine.

Democrats are pressing to call witnesses, including former national security adviser John Bolton, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other leading Republicans do not want to extend the proceedings into unpredictable territory and are angling for a swift acquittal of Trump.

The president team has focused on process, the fact that Schiff did not subpoena Bolton during the House’s inquiry. Schiff has shot back that Bolton refused to testify and threatened to sue the House if subpoenaed. Now he’s willing to testify, so the Senate should call him, Schiff has argued.

Trump faces charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The crux of the case for his impeachment is the allegation that he withheld military aid and a White House meeting to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son. Hunter Biden served on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, while his father was vice president.

●Trump legal team advances blanket defense against impeachment.

●Wavering Democrats face pressure as GOP eyes bipartisan vote for Trump acquittal.

●Bolton’s lawyer contends his book does not contain classified material and asks White House for expedited review so he can testify if called.

●All the president’s disloyal men? Trump demands fealty but inspires very little.

4:00 a.m.
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Lamar Alexander will vote against more witnesses

Democrats pinned their hopes of hearing from more witnesses on retiring Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), who seemed open to new evidence.

But after the two days of questions and answers, Alexander decided he did not need to hear any more to determine that Trump did what he was accused of, but that it doesn’t warrant removing him from office.

“There is no need for more evidence to prove that the president asked Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter; he said this on television on October 3, 2019, and during his July 25, 2019, telephone call with the president of Ukraine. There is no need for more evidence to conclude that the president withheld United States aid, at least in part, to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens; the House managers have proved this with what they call a ‘mountain of overwhelming evidence.’ 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,” he said in a statement.

“The question then is not whether the president did it, but whether the United States Senate or the American people should decide what to do about what he did,” Alexander said. “I believe that the Constitution provides that the people should make that decision in the presidential election that begins in Iowa on Monday.”

3:50 a.m.
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Susan Collins announces she will vote for witnesses

Shortly after the Senate adjourned, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) released this statement announcing she will vote to allow more witnesses:

“We have heard the cases argued and the questions answered. In keeping with the model used for the impeachment trial of President Clinton, at this point, Senators are able to make an informed judgment about what is in dispute and what is important to the underlying issues.

“I worked with colleagues to ensure the schedule for the trial included a guaranteed up-or-down vote on whether or not to call witnesses. I believe hearing from certain witnesses would give each side the opportunity to more fully and fairly make their case, resolve any ambiguities, and provide additional clarity. Therefore, I will vote in support of the motion to allow witnesses and documents to be subpoenaed.

“If this motion passes, I believe that the most sensible way to proceed would be for the House Managers and the President’s attorneys to attempt to agree on a limited and equal number of witnesses for each side. If they can’t agree, then the Senate could choose the number of witnesses.”

3:30 a.m.
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Trump team, GOP senators seize on ‘Biden doctrine’ to argue against witnesses

The Senate’s newest member, Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) asked Trump’s defense team about a Politico article that came out during Thursday night’s proceedings, about how former vice president Joe Biden argued against including new witnesses during former president Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial, and that Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) agreed with him.

Trump attorney Patrick Philbin seized on the mention of the “Biden doctrine” and the “Biden rule,” as he referred to it, as support for the idea that the trial could conclude without hearing from additional witnesses – and to argue that lead House manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who also chairs the House Intelligence Committee, was trying to rewrite the rules in order to insist that witnesses be brought into the current proceedings against Trump that weren’t part of the House’s presentation.

Philbin then went a step further, arguing that the House was “asking you as a Senate body to waive executive privilege on the president of the United States” by calling witnesses close to Trump. Trump has still not exerted executive privilege over any of the four additional witnesses that House and Senate Democrats have advocated subpoenaing as part of the trial.

3:00 a.m.
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Senators key to witness vote ask if Bolton’s testimony even matters

Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) – the two senators who could decide whether more witnesses are called – teamed up with Trump allies to ask the defense if hearing from Bolton would change anything.

“Assuming, for argument’s sake, that Bolton were to testify in the light most favorable to the allegations contained in the articles of impeachment, isn’t it true that the allegations still would not rise to the level of an impeachable offense and that therefore, for this and other reasons, his testimony would add nothing to this case?” they asked.

Defense lawyer Patrick Philbin started by asserting “there was no quid pro quo,” but said even if Bolton came and testified that there was “the articles of impeachment still wouldn’t rise to an impeachable offense.”

Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) then asked the House managers to answer the same question, which Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) answered.

“We know why they don’t want John Bolton to testify. It’s not because we don’t really know what happened here. They just don’t want the American people to hear it and all of its ugly, graphic detail,” Schiff said.

2:45 a.m.
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Former GOP senator John Warner says Senate should call witnesses

Former senator John Warner (R-Va.), who served 30 years and chaired the Armed Services Committee, called on his former colleagues to “accept the introduction of additional evidence” in the impeachment trial of President Trump.

A member of the Senate in 1999, Warner split his vote on two articles of impeachment against Bill Clinton, finding him guilty and supporting his removal on obstruction of justice but not guilty on the charge of perjury.

Warner, who turns 93 in three weeks, helped forge a 2005 bipartisan compromise on judicial confirmations that temporarily halted the wars over those nominations, clearing the way for Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s easy confirmation with 78 votes. Warner, who now serves as an adviser at Hogan Lovells, introduced Roberts, who also served at that firm, at the outset of his confirmation hearing.

In recent years Warner has backed away from the increasingly conservative GOP in Virginia, prompting him to endorse Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) in his reelection in 2018. He also voted for Hillary Clinton over Trump in 2016.

“I respectfully urge the Senate to be guided by the rules of evidence and follow our nation’s judicial norms, precedents and institutions to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law by welcoming relevant witnesses and documents as part of this impeachment trial,” Warner said in the statement.

2:30 a.m.
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Moderate Democrats ask why House managers didn’t negotiate with White House on documents

Democratic senators from conservative states, Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Doug Jones (Ala.) and Krysten Sinema (Ariz.) pressed the House managers on why they didn’t launch formal negotiations with the White House over documents and witnesses.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said plainly that the president made it clear the White House wasn’t going to participate and would fight all subpoenas, calling it a “blanket obstruction.”

“The president’s marching order were, ‘go pound sand,’ ” Schiff said.

1:40 a.m.
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Trump tells supporters impeachment’s been a ‘happy period’

As the Senate debated his conduct, Trump sought to draw a contrast between his record and the Democrat-led impeachment during a political rally in Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday.

“While we are proudly creating jobs and killing terrorists, congressional Democrats are consumed with partisan rage and obsessed with a deranged, witch hunt, hoax,” Trump said. “We’re having probably the best year in the history of our country — and I just got impeached!”

Trump said he was enjoying a “happy period” unlike the “dark” impeachments of his predecessors, presidents Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon, Andrew Johnson.

“This is a happy period for us,” he said. “It’s a happy period because they call it ‘impeachment-lite.’”

1:30 a.m.
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Murkowski asks Trump defense: why not call Bolton?

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who is being closely watched as one of the most potentially pivotal GOP senators on the question of witnesses, asked Trump’s defense point-blank Thursday night: “Why should this body not call in Ambassador Bolton?”

Former national security adviser John Bolton has emerged as a key witness for the prosecution, after reports that his forthcoming book details Trump told him Ukraine’s military aid would remain frozen until they committed to announce investigations into the Bidens — a quid pro quo others have denied.

“This dispute about material facts weighs in favor of calling additional witnesses with direct knowledge,” her question stated, as read by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., challenging Trump’s team to argue against that assumption.

Defense attorney Patrick Philbin gave a procedural answer, arguing that the Senate shouldn’t set a precedent that the House can deliver a “half-baked, not finished” impeachment case to the Senate and expect it to fill in the holes.

“The primary consideration here is, the House could have pursued Ambassador Bolton. … They chose not to subpoena him,” Philbin said. “It will do grave damage to this body to say that the proceedings in the House don’t have to really be complete, you don’t have to subpoena the witnesses that you think are necessary to prove your case, you don’t really have to put it all together before you bring the package here.”

Philbin also tried to dismiss the seriousness of Bolton’s allegations — while also effectively acknowledging that there was reason to verify them.

“It’s simply alleged that the manuscript says that,” Philbin said. “Ambassador Bolton hasn’t come out to verify that, to my knowledge.”

12:45 a.m.
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Schiff on having Roberts rule on new evidence: ‘They fear the chief justice will be fair’

Democratic Sens. Chris Van Hollen (Md.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) asked both sides if they’d be opposed to having Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. decide which witnesses and what documents are relevant if the Senate votes to allow new evidence.

Jay Sekulow for the White House answered first, saying the defense team does not believe that would be “appropriate.”

“No disrespect to the senators’ question, but we’re — that’s just not a position that we will accept as far as moving these proceedings forward,” he said.

Schiff countered that allowing Roberts to decide on witnesses would be the fairest by taking the political gamesmanship out of it. Schiff said GOP resistance is not on the merits.

“I think the reason, of course, they don’t want the chief justice to make that decision ... is not because they don’t trust the chief to be fair, it’s because they fear the chief justice will be fair, he said.

11:30 p.m.
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McConnell asks question for Sen. Lamar Alexander

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) piggybacked on a question from Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) about the partisan nature of the impeachment, asking the White House defense team to respond to it and anything else asserted by the House managers they’d like to refute.

Alexander has long been considered the fourth possible vote to get Democrats to 51 votes to call more witnesses. McConnell’s singling out his question may portend that Alexander will be voting with Republicans.

Trump attorney Patrick Philbin used the opportunity to circle back to whether Alan Dershowitz had said a president could get away with anything if he believed his reelection was in the public interest.

“The suggestion has been made because of Professor Dershowitz … that the theory the president’s counsel is advancing is the president can do anything he wants if he thinks it will advance his reelection. Any quid pro quo, anything he wants. Anything goes. And that is not true,” Philbin said. “Professor Dershowitz today issued a statement to show that that was an exaggeration of what he was saying.”

11:00 p.m.
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Elizabeth Warren questions impact of trial on Supreme Court

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. asked a question from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) that involved himself.

“At a time when large majorities of Americans have lost faith in government, does the fact that the chief justice is presiding over an impeachment trial in which Republican senators have thus far refused to allow witnesses or evidence contribute to the loss of legitimacy of the chief justice, the Supreme Court and the Constitution?” Roberts read on behalf of Warren.

As Roberts started to speak, murmurs spread across the Republican side of the chamber, clearly upset at the tone of the question, while Democrats sat expressionless — giving no indication they liked or disliked it. The House managers and their staff looked at one another and their staff, not quite prepared for the question, before Schiff finally took the podium and dismissed the attack on Roberts by instead saying the trial would rebound against Congress. “It reflects adversely on us,” he said.

He commended Roberts for presiding “admirably.”

It’s unclear what Warren’s goal was with the question, as it went against the Democratic grain of the last 24 hours, when everyone from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) to moderate Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) had been publicly courting Roberts to wade into the trial if the vote on witnesses ends in a 50-50 deadlock.

“Leave it up to the chief justice,” Pelosi said late Thursday morning.

10:15 p.m.
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Former senator Jeff Flake predicts vote on witnesses may be tied

Former senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a Trump critic who remains close to many former colleagues, said Thursday afternoon that his informal whip count includes just “two or three” Republicans who will call for witnesses — listing Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Mitt Romney (Utah) as “yes” votes and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) as a “likely yes,” based on his own conversations with top Republicans and others.

“Doesn’t look like there will be four,” Flake said.

If every member of the Democratic caucus votes Friday to move forward on witnesses, they would need four Republicans to vote with them for it to pass.

It remains unclear what will happen if the vote is tied. Democrats are calling on Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. to be the deciding vote.

9:40 p.m.
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Two sides disagree over whether there’s a line between permissible and impeachable political acts

Another bipartisan question, from Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Rep. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), asked both sides, “Where is the line between permissible political actions and impeachable political actions?”

Trump’s team went first, reiterating the point about how an elected official’s actions are always going to be in part motivated by reelection prospects.

“That’s a very dangerous path because there is always some eye to the next election and it ends up becoming a standard so malleable that it really is a substitute for a policy difference,” Philbin said. “If we don’t like your policy, we attribute you bad motive.”

But Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said that there has to be a line and that there is a difference between presidents making a policy judgment based on their electoral chances and engaging in “a corrupt act to help their election.”

“The public officials are inherently political animals,” Schiff said. “I don’t mean that in a derogatory term. They run for office. They hold office. They conduct acts as political figures.”

Citing Alexander Hamilton, Schiff said the founder spoke “about the [impeachment] crimes being political in character and the remedies being political in character, because we’re not talking about imprisonment here.”

“We’re not talking about taking away someone’s liberty,” he said. “So we’re talking about a political punishment for a political crime.”

9:20 p.m.
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White House lawyer says Giuliani was not carrying out U.S. foreign policy

A bipartisan quartet of senators — Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) — directed a question on foreign policy to Trump’s team.

“Will the president assure the American public that private citizens will not be directed to conduct American foreign policy or national security policy unless they have been specifically and formally designated by the president and the State Department to do so?” they asked.

The question comes in the wake of reports that Trump personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani conducted a shadow Ukraine agenda while key U.S. foreign policy officials were sidelined.

White House Deputy Counsel Patrick Philbin replied that “there was no conduct of foreign policy being carried on here by a private person,” mentioning Giuliani in particular.

“I am not in a position to make pledges for the president here, but the president’s policy is always to abide by the laws,” he said.

Philbin added, however, that it would not be “improper” for a president, “in some circumstances . . . to rely on a personal confidant” to relay messages back and forth to a foreign government.

“That’s not prohibited,” Philbin said.