Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stopped the presses on Tuesday with an update from people familiar with the matter who claimed that he doesn’t believe Republicans have the number of votes required to block the calling of witnesses in the ongoing Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the sources made the announcement after McConnell finished a meeting with Republican colleagues, on the very day that Trump’s legal defense team argued against calling witnesses like former national security adviser John Bolton, who recently revealed in a manuscript for his upcoming book that an aid package earmarked for Ukraine was tied to a condition that the country would investigate Joe Biden and Hunter Biden.
While most Senate Republicans have been eyeing up a speedy end to the impeachment trial with the hopes of an acquittal by week’s end, Democrats have continued to argue that calling Bolton as a witness is not only fair, but necessary in order to prove that the two articles of impeachment drafted against the president are worthy of his removal from office.
Republicans argued not only that witnesses were no longer necessary in the impeachment trial, but that the two articles of impeachment failed to rise to the level that would call for the president’s removal, according to the U.S. Constitution.
NEWS — McConnell told his members that he did not yet have enough votes to be able to kill the witness vote, expected Friday, according to people familiar. Yet several 2020ers spoke, saying they're ready to move on to final vote, move on from the trial.
— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) January 28, 2020
“The bar for impeachment cannot be set this low,” Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow argued.
Though the upper chamber is controlled by Republicans, Democrats only need four GOP senators to cross the vote threshold to pass a simple majority vote that would approve the calling of witnesses. Sen. Mitt Romney and a small handful of others on the GOP side have signaled that they’re on the fence about calling Bolton and other witnesses.
Should the vote be taken and passed, several Republican senators have insisted that if Democrats are allowed to call Bolton to testify, then Republicans should be able to call witnesses such as Hunter Biden and possibly the anonymous whistleblower from the U.S. intelligence community who sparked the impeachment inquiry last year.
Beginning Wednesday, senators will be able to ask questions of both Trump’s legal team and Democratic House Managers, before deciding on whether or not witnesses or other evidence will be required to determine the president’s political fate.