White House

Pelosi: Trump ‘Cannot Be Acquitted’ Unless Senate Votes to Call Witnesses

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces the House of Representatives managers for the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump during a news conference on Capitol Hill, January 15, 2020. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that President Trump “cannot be acquitted” in his Senate impeachment trial unless senators vote to introduce more evidence and call on witnesses to testify because the trial will otherwise be invalid.

“He will not be acquitted. You cannot be acquitted if you don’t have a trial,” Pelosi said at her weekly press briefing. “And you don’t have a trial if you don’t have witnesses and documentation.”

The Senate is facing the possibility that Friday’s vote on whether to call for witness testimony could end in a tie, forcing Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to cast the deciding vote.

“That is a great unknown. There’s no way to know procedurally what he would do. Or if he’ll do” anything, said Republican Senator James Lankford.

“I would hope that the senators if it comes to a tie or if there’s a question of hearing testimony or receiving documents would leave it up to the chief justice of the Supreme Court,” Pelosi said Thursday. “I would think that they would have confidence in the chief justice of the United States.”

The speaker accused Republicans of being “afraid” of Roberts breaking a tie, calling it “interesting.”

Republicans had been confident for weeks that the GOP Senate majority would vote to continue the impeachment trial without witnesses. However, that plan was thrown into chaos earlier this week when the New York Times reported that former national security adviser John Bolton states in his upcoming memoir that President Trump told him specifically that U.S. military aid to Ukraine was contingent on the opening of an investigation into Joe Biden.

Several Republican senators, including Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska signaled in the wake of the Bolton revelation that they will likely vote to call on him to testify. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly told his caucus Tuesday that he lacks the 51 votes needed to block new witnesses.

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