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Tester, Daines to split vote on Trump impeachment; acquittal likely

While the outcome of a U.S. Senate impeachment vote planned for Wednesday is expected to see President Donald Trump acquitted on all charges by the Republican majority, the vote of Montana’s two senators will result in an even draw.

Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines split their vote last week on whether to call new witnesses and evidence in the impeachment trial, which has consumed the Senate for the past two weeks. Tester voted in favor of allowing witnesses while Daines voted against it.

On Tuesday, Tester said he believes Trump is guilty of abusing his power and obstructing justice.

“Based on the evidence that was available to me during this trial, I believe President Trump abused his power by withholding military aid from an ally for personal political gain, and that he obstructed legitimate oversight by a coequal branch of government,” Tester said. “It’s a sad day for this country and for all Americans who believe that no one — not even the president of the United States — is above the law.”

Last week on the issue of calling witnesses, which the Senate rejected on a 51-49 vote, Tester accused the Republican majority of denying efforts to achieve transparency. He called it the first impeachment trial in U.S. history where the Senate failed to hear from a witness.

He continued that criticism on Tuesday.

“I fought to allow this trial to include documents and testimony from witnesses with firsthand knowledge of the allegations against the president,” Tester said. “Unfortunately, my Republican colleagues and the administration blocked this information — robbing the American people of their legitimate right to hold their elected officials accountable.”

In a floor speech on Tuesday afternoon, Daines offered a different take on the matter, saying he’d listened to 65 hours of trial proceedings, viewed 193 video clips, was presented with more than 28,000 pages of documentation, and listened as senators asked more than 180 questions.

In the end, he called it a partisan abuse of power.

“Never has the Senate been faced with articles of impeachment that allege no crimes, in the attempt to remove a duly elected president of the United States from office,” Daines said. “Never before have we seen such a partisan presidential impeachment process. We should now fear for future presidents, Democrats or Republicans, who will hold the oath of office in this newly hyper-partisan era.”