Key Senate Republican comes out against impeachment witnesses, paving way for Trump acquittal

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Swing-vote Republican comes out against impeachment witnesses, paving way for imminent Trump acquittal
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., announced late Thursday night that he would not support additional witnesses in President Trump's "shallow, hurried and wholly partisan" Senate impeachment trial, seemingly ending Democrats' hopes of hearing testimony from former national security adviser John Bolton and paving the way for the president's imminent acquittal as soon as Friday night.

Republicans have a 53-47 majority in the chamber and can afford up to three defections when the Senate considers whether to call additional witnesses Friday -- a question that is considered by a simple majority vote. In the event of a 50-50 tie, by rule, the vote on witnesses would fail in the Senate. Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts is likely to abstain rather than assert his debatable power to cast a tie-breaking vote.

Should the witness vote fail as expected, the Senate would likely then vote on the articles of impeachment Friday night or sometime Saturday. An extraordinarily unlikely two-thirds supermajority vote is needed to convict and remove Trump; otherwise, he will be acquitted.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, perhaps in response to comments from Trump lawyer Alan Dershowitz, accused Trump's legal team of trampling the Constitution and wondered how they could hold on to their law licensesClick here for more on our top story

Other developments in Trump's Senate impeachment trial:
 - Fox News Exclusive: Trump confident in acquittal: 'Very boring to watch'
 - Why Justice Roberts appeared irritated with Elizabeth Warren
 - Nadler appears to steal podium from Schiff in viral moment

State Department, citing coronavirus, raises China travel advisory as WHO declares outbreak a global health emergency
The State Department on Thursday night raised its China travel advisory to "Level 4: Do Not Travel," citing the spread of the deadly coronavirus, days after evacuating non-emergency U.S. personnel and their families out of the country amid an uptick in infections.

"Those currently in China should consider departing using commercial means. The Department of State has requested that all non-essential U.S. government personnel defer travel to China in light of the novel coronavirus," officials said in the advisory.

The advisory was upgraded from a Level 3 issued earlier this week that urged Americans to reconsider travel to Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus that officials have since quarantined, along with at least 17 other cities. The World Health Organization on Thursday declared the outbreak a global health emergency after a recent jump in infections, which totaled more than 7,800 as of Thursday. The virus has claimed the lives of at least 213 people in China. Click here for more.

Other developments in the coronavirus outbreak:
- Trump says US working closely with China
- How coronavirus is transmitted | How it started

This image taken from video on Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, and provided by the National Transportation Safety Board, shows part of the wreckage of a helicopter crash near Calabasas, Calif. (James Anderson/National Transportation Safety Board via AP)

This image taken from video on Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, and provided by the National Transportation Safety Board, shows part of the wreckage of a helicopter crash near Calabasas, Calif. (James Anderson/National Transportation Safety Board via AP)

Charter company that flew Kobe Bryant in doomed helicopter trip suspends operations 
The charter company that owned a helicopter that crashed in Calabasas, Calif., on Sunday, killing all nine onboard, including Kobe Bryant, halted all services Thursday.

Island Express Helicopters is "suspending all flight service for operational reasons," according to multiple reports. Company representatives did not provide further details about the suspension. A message regarding the crash has been posted to the company's website since Monday, detailing the accident and offering condolences. Click here for more.
 
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SOME PARTING WORDS

Laura Ingraham predicts Democrats will challenge the legitimacy of President Trump's acquittal of impeachment charges.

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