The impeachment trial of President Donald Trump is all but over after the US Senate passed a motion against calling witnesses to testify, meaning the process is now expected to wrap up next week.
The Republican-controlled Senate voted 51-49 against Democrats' calls for new witnesses. The result was expected after GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander said he was against seeking new evidence.
"I didn't need any more evidence because I thought it was proved that the president did what he was charged with doing," Alexander told reporters. ``"But that didn't rise to the level of an impeachable offence."
It was an upset for Democrats who believe some witnesses have incriminating evidence of Donald Trump abusing his presidential powers. In particular, they wanted former national security advisor John Bolton to testify.
The New York Times has reported that a draft of his forthcoming book shows that the US president directed him to pressure Ukraine into digging up damaging information on political opponents.
The Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, was highly critical of the decision to reject witness testimony, calling it a "tragedy."
"America will remember this day, unfortunately, where the Senate did not live up to its responsibilities," he said.
Closing arguments in the trial will take place on Monday and Tuesday followed by a final vote on Wednesday. An acquittal looks highly likely.
Trump would need two-thirds of Senators to vote against him in order to be found guilty.
A White House aide said Trump is gratified the Senate will set a schedule for a vote as quickly as possible adding that he does "not believe that schedule interferes with his ability to deliver a strong, confident State of the Union next week."