/Trumps trial could be all over this week

Trumps trial could be all over this week

Pressure is expected to mount on those individuals seen as most likely to fold – a group that includes Republican senators Mitt Romney, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski – as the week moves towards its climax.

An explosive report in The New York Times late on Sunday (Monday AEDT) revealed that former White House national security adviser John Bolton was told by Mr Trump in August that he wanted to continue freezing $US391 million ($574 million) in security assistance in Ukraine until the east European country launched investigations into Mr Biden and his son.

Lawyers at the weekend accused the Democrats of trying to overturn the results of the 2016 presidential election by throwing Mr Trump from office. Bloomberg

The account is contained in an unpublished manuscript by John Bolton, according to the Times, and threatens to undermine a key line of White House defence: that the hold-up in aid had nothing to do with demands for probes into the president’s domestic political rivals.

Lawyers at the weekend accused the Democrats of trying to overturn the results of the 2016 presidential election by throwing Mr Trump from office.

“It would violate our constitution, it would violate our history, it would violate our commitment to the future,” Pat Cipollone, White House counsel, said.

Mr Trump is only the third president in US history to be impeached, but is widely expected to be exonerated by the Republican-controlled Senate. Democrats need to win over no fewer than 20 Republicans to force Mr Trump from office.

While a narrow majority of American voters believe Mr Trump should be removed from the White House, interest in the trial has sagged, polls and social media metrics show.

A recent CNN-SSRS poll showed that 51 per cent of voters said he should be convicted and removed, with 45 per cent against such a move. In September, the gap was 47 per cent to 45 per cent.

Online interest in the opening three days of Democrat testimony in the Senate was less than half what it was for the first three days of last month’s House impeachment hearings, according to figures published by Axios and provided by NewsWhip.

The figures showed the House hearings triggered 32.5 million social media interactions such as likes, comments or shares, compared to 17.8 million last week.

“In these days of fragmentation and distraction, even the gravest constitutional process hasn’t been enough to keep the country hooked,” Axios concluded.

Unlike the impeachment and trial against Mr Clinton 20 years ago, there has been a palpable public indifference to last week’s hearings.

The public viewing galleries were, at best, two-thirds full when The Australian Financial Review attended on Thursday.

There have also been almost no public demonstrations in support of the case the Democrats are pursuing.

That said, there continues to be strong support for the Senate to hear additional witnesses, such as Mr Bolton.

Once Mr Trump’s defence team concludes its presentation by the end of Tuesday (Wednesday AEDT), Senators will have 16 hours to question the Democrat impeachment managers and the president’s team.

After that, most observers believe there will be a lengthy push by Democrats to call for additional witnesses and evidence.

The timeline means it is possible the trial could be wrapped up before the end of this week.