Senate Republicans muscled through a resolution on Friday night that paves the way for President Trump to be acquitted by the middle of next week.
The Senate voted along party lines 53-47 on the resolution, with every Democratic senator opposing it after Republicans rejected allowing witnesses or documents as part of the trial.
“A majority of the U.S. Senate has determined that the numerous witnesses and 28,000-plus pages of documents already in evidence are sufficient to judge the House Managers’ accusations and end this impeachment trial,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement.
Under the deal reached by Republicans, the Senate will reconvene on Monday, skipping the normal Saturday session required by the chamber’s impeachment rules.
Both Trump’s legal team and House managers will get two hours each to deliver their closing arguments. Once that is finished the Senate will then effectively put the impeachment trial on pause until Wednesday at 4 p.m., when senators will move to vote on the articles of impeachment.
In the interim, senators will be able to use the Senate floor to speak publicly and explain their votes, unlike during the impeachment trial itself, when they are expected to sit silently.
The decision was the latest twist in the Senate’s impeachment proceedings, which were initially delayed by a weeks-long standoff between McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
The last-minute floor drama comes after Republicans briefly huddled behind closed doors to figure out how they could end the trial after blocking any witnesses.
Some, like Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), wanted to grind through Friday night and acquit Trump by early Saturday morning.
“We’re gonna land this plan, we know where we’re going to land it and hopefully we hit the runway,” Graham said after Friday’s vote.
But a GOP aide said that a small group of Republicans had raised concerns about the break-neck pace and instead wanted to follow the Clinton model from 1999, which allowed for days of deliberations.
A specific push for more deliberation time was not discussed during a Senate GOP lunch or a brief closed-door meeting early Friday evening, according to a GOP senator in both meetings.
But McConnell and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) met with Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) as the caucus tried to figure out its strategy.
Republicans managed to pass the resolution on Friday night after shooting down a number of Democratic amendments, including a last-ditch attempt to subpoena former national security adviser John Bolton and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
Despite getting their witnesses requests rejected for a second time in a day, a spokesman for Schumer claimed victory, saying Republicans had wanted to “rush through” the acquittal votes on Friday night.
“Democrats wanted votes on witnesses and documents, for the House Managers to be able to make closing arguments, ample time for every member to speak, and to prevent GOP from rushing this through,” the spokesman added.
Updated Jan. 31 8:41 p.m.