As senators spent Wednesday questioning House Managers in the potential final phase of the impeachment trial, Senate Republicans announced that, contrary to reports from Tuesday, they feel confident that they have enough votes to counter Democrats’ desire to call witnesses and extend the trial.
And without witnesses being called by both sides — which would greatly extend the length of the trial — an acquittal vote could come as soon as Friday.
According to The Hill, the news came in the wake of a roughly half-hour meeting between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Lisa Murkowski. The meeting and its outcome were interpreted by several GOP senators to mean that Democrats were not able to convince enough Republican senators to side with them in a vote to call witnesses in the trial.
After the meeting between McConnell and Murkowski, followed by a Senate luncheon, a number of GOP senators expressed confidence that the impeachment trial was near its end, with Sen. Mike Rounds saying, “We’re going to get it done by Friday, hopefully.”
“I think I can say the mood is good,” Sen. Mike Braun said following the lunch. “If I had to guess, no witnesses,” Braun added, signaling that McConnell was able to muster enough party unity to keep from allowing Democrats to have witnesses called.
“We’ll be in a place where I think everyone is going to have their mind made up and I believe that we’ll be able to move to a verdict, and the witness question will be clear at that point,” Braun said.
Interestingly, Murkowski — who has been seen as one of the potential Republican defectors — didn’t attend the luncheon after her meeting with McConnell. Sen. Mitt Romney — another potential party breaker — declined to comment after the lunch wrapped up.
Sen. Susan Collins is another GOP senator expected to side with Democrats on the witness matter, though there was no official word on whether or not she changed her mind.
The revelation comes on the heels of renewed interest by Democrats to have former national security adviser John Bolton testify, given recently leaked information from his upcoming book that President Donald Trump asked him to hold a Ukraine military aid package until they launched an investigation into the Bidens.
The president and his top allies have denied such allegations and have moved to label the book as possibly illegal as its written at the current time, saying that it contains top secret, classified information.