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Schumer Says Vote to Call Witnesses is an ‘Uphill Battle’ as Wavering Republicans Come Out in Favor of Speedy End to Trial

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks during a news conference to schedule a Senate vote on the Background Checks Expansion Act, June 20, 2019. (Al Drago/Reuters)

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer admitted Wednesday that Democrats will struggle to force witness testimony and additional evidence during the Senate impeachment trial as Republicans who were previously on the fence began to announce they will vote with their party.

”We’ve always known it will be an uphill fight on witnesses and on documents because the president and Mitch McConnell put huge pressure on these folks,” the New York Democrat said.

Schumer insisted that the public is “overwhelmingly on our side for witnesses” as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell attempts to garner enough votes to bring the trial to a swift conclusion.

Republican senators Cory Gardner of Colorado and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania had hedged on whether they would vote to call more witnesses to testify during the trial, but both said Wednesday they would vote not to do so. McConnell reportedly warned on Tuesday during a caucus meeting that he lacked the 51 votes to shut down Democrats’s requests for witnesses.

The question of whether to call witnesses was complicated earlier this week after a bombshell report from the New York Times, which revealed that John Bolton states in his upcoming memoir that in August he personally witnessed President Trump tie the provision of military aid to politically beneficial investigations.

The White House National Security Council afterwards claimed that Bolton’s book, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir, scheduled for release March 17, contained classified information “at the TOP SECRET level” and could “cause exceptionally grave harm to the national security.” Bolton’s lawyer disputed that claim in a Wednesday statement.

Democrats have called for testimony from Bolton, who has said he is willing to appear before the Senate for testimony if subpoenaed. Trump’s legal team has also called for witness testimony from House impeachment manager Adam Schiff, Joe and Hunter Biden and the intelligence community whistleblower who first brought attention to the allegations of a quid pro quo by Trump.

The Senate votes on witnesses and whether to introduce new evidence are set for Friday.

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