Reports are pouring out of the closed-door Republican caucus meeting that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell does not have the votes to block witnesses in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump.
Washington Post reports:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) indicated in a closed-door meeting with Senate Republicans that he did not yet have enough votes to defeat an effort, expected later this week, to call additional witnesses and evidence in the trial.
Pressure has ramped up to include witnesses after reports that former national security adviser John Bolton says in a book manuscript that Trump directly tied the holdup of nearly $400 million in military assistance to Ukraine to investigations of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
The next phase of the impeachment trial is 16 hours of questions from Senators for the House impeachment managers or Trump's defense team. After that, there will be a vote. Perhaps there will be witnesses called, and perhaps not, since Susan Collins is always a question mark.
However, it looks like Republicans are in disarray this time. According to a quote in the New York Times, Senator Kevin Cramer sounded a bit...petulant. “We’re not robots. We’re not sheep. We’re individuals that represent our states,” Mr. Cramer told The Times. “There are no wimps in the United States Senate.”
Nevertheless, the Times put the best spin on it, saying that McConnell expected to have the votes by the end of the week as they apply pressure on those in the caucus who want to hear from witnesses and see some evidence, as most people do.
UPDATE: Looks like some strong-arming going on behind the scenes.
Confirming WSJ reporting McConnell told senators they don't have the 51 votes to block witnesses ... but the implication is simply GOP leaders have more work to do, not they are on a trajectory to lose or have witnesses. In fact, Rs feel good about beating witness question...
— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) January 28, 2020