Senate Democrats were ramping up pressure for witnesses to be called in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump before the historic process gets fully under way on Capitol Hill on Tuesday – even as the president plans to be away at the elite economic and political forum in Davos, Switzerland, during opening arguments.

Trump already has no plans to appear at his own Senate trial and will be represented by a legal team that includes some controversial figures. But the symbolism of his being out of the country at a very see-and-be-seen annual event that draws global leaders while he stands accused back home of abusing the power of his office and obstructing Congress during its investigation into his conduct with Ukraine is telling.

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He is due to give a keynote speech at the forum as the drama unfolds in Washington.

The Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, said that he aims to compel the chamber as early as Tuesday to hold a vote on whether witnesses and extra evidence can be brought before the impeachment trial, and he turned up the pressure on moderate Republicans to side with the minority to achieve that.

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