Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a private meeting today that Republican leaders do not currently have enough votes to block impeachment witnesses.
Sources cited by the Wall Street Journal said McConnell made the remarks in a private Senate GOP meeting where he appeared to have a running tally of the votes.
The Republicans had hoped to conclude the trial with an acquittal for President Trump this week, but Democrats have been pushing to subpoena individuals and materials to gather more information on Trump’s alleged pressure campaign in Ukraine.
Explosive excerpts from former national security adviser John Bolton’s book that have leaked in the media, along with Bolton’s stated willingness to testify if subpoenaed, have also raised concerns about moving the trial to a vote before calling more witnesses.
Bolton alleges Trump told his national security adviser in August that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens.
Bolton’s explosive account of the matter at the center of Trump’s impeachment trial, the third in American history, was included in drafts of a manuscript he has circulated in recent weeks to close associates.
He also sent a draft to the White House for a standard review process for some current and former administration officials who write books.
Trump attorney Jay Sekulow argued that the revelations from Bolton’s manuscript would not be admissible during a typical trial, dismissing their importance to the impeachment proceedings.
Sekulow read several statements denying Bolton’s allegation that Trump directly tied the withholding of military aid to Ukraine to investigations into his political rivals.
The statements came from Trump, the Department of Justice and the chief of staff to Vice President Pence.
Sekulow then sought to emphasize what remains unknown about Bolton’s still-unpublished book, calling it “an unpublished manuscript that maybe some reporters have an idea of maybe what it says.”
At least four Republicans would have to vote with all Democrats in the key vote later this week to allow witnesses.
The vote is not expected until Friday.
On Wednesday afternoon, the next phase of the trial begins — a chance for senators to ask questions of the prosecution and defense.
They’ll spend up to eight hours a day asking questions, alternating between Republican and Democratic senators.
The Senate rules passed in the 1980s outlining how to do a trial say senators have to ask these questions in writing (to avoid grandstanding).
The chief justice will read them out loud.
Thursday will be the same as Wednesday.
During the Bill Clinton trial, more than 100 questions were asked.Attribution:WSJ