Republican aides in the Senate believe it is increasingly likely that Democrats will fail to convince enough GOP Senators to call additional witnesses in President Trump’s impeachment trial.
Democrats, who face a 53-47 Republican majority, need at least four Republican votes and no Democrat defections to call witnesses after opening arguments, but 10 senior staffers to key Senate Republicans say that flipping more than three votes will be a tall order, according to a report from Axios.
Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, and Joni Ernst of Iowa were all targeted initially by Democrats, after several signaled willingness for witnesses in the buildup to the trial.
“I would like to be able to hear from John Bolton,” Romney told reporters on January 6, while Collins confirmed on January 10 that she was coordinating with a “fairly small group” of GOP senators to arrange for witnesses to be called.
But testimony from the House’s impeachment managers, especially that of Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) and Jerry Nadler (D., N.Y.) have apparently chilled Republicans. Tillis has already come out and said he would vote no for witnesses, while aides and colleagues told Axios that Ernst and Gardner will also likely turn down witnesses.
Alexander reportedly remains the wild card, with his close relationship to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell well documented but a source telling Axios that he is “truly undecided on witnesses.”
“Remember he is a lawyer himself and was a damn good one in private practice,” the close source said. “You hear the House’s case. You hear the president’s response. You ask questions. Then you decide if witnesses are needed.”