Most Senate Republicans have lined up behind Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's plan for a lightning-fast, witness-free impeachment trial which will end with the acquittal of President Trump - much to the chagrin of Senate Democrats led by Chuck Schumer of New York.
McConnell (R-KY) has been unswayed by former National Security Adviser John Bolton's offer to testify, as well as the recent emergence of emails suggesting Trump's direct involvement in his administration's pausing of US aid to Ukraine after asking President Volodomyr Zelensky to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden ahead of the 2020 US election.
Two Republicans who have on occasion broken with Trump and have criticized McConnell’s statements about the trial -- Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Maine’s Susan Collins -- say they back his plan to follow the precedent of Bill Clinton’s 1999 impeachment trial by delaying any decision on witnesses.
“I think we need to do what they did the last time they did this unfortunate process, and that was to go through a first phase and then they reassessed after that,” Murkowski said.
McConnell likely has the votes to force the issue without cooperation from Democrats. -Bloomberg
McConnell has guaranteed that Senate Democrats won't have the 67 votes required to convict Trump and remove him from office. Meanwhile, he can simply point to Clinton's impeachment as precedent on witness testimony, as it would allow Trump's lawyers and White House impeachment managers to make their arguments and answer questions from Senators before administration figures such as Bolton and acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney have a chance to speak.
There have been no discussions between McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who can go pound sand as talks seem unlikely.
"If every Republican senator votes for a rigged trial that hides the truth, the American people will see that the Republican Senate is part of a large and awful cover-up," said Schumer in a Tuesday screed on the Senate floor.
Chuck Schumer: "Whoever heard of a trial without witnesses and documents? It's unprecedented ... Witnesses and documents? Fair trial. No witnesses and no documents? Cover-up. That simple sentence describes it all." Via ABC pic.twitter.com/eKhKoBjIVP— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 7, 2020
According to Trump, Bolton 'would know nothing' about the Ukraine situation.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), meanwhile, has yet to reveal when she plans to transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate, thereby making Trump's impeachment official according to House Democratic witness and Harvard Law professor, Dr. Noah Feldman.
Pelosi's allies argue that the Senate turning down Bolton's offer to testify under subpoena suggest that Republicans are involved in covering up evidence against Trump.
"McConnell is making very plain he’s not interested in the country learning the full extent" of Trump's misconduct, according to a Tuesday statement by House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff. "And apparently there are any number of senators willing to go along with that head-in-the-sand strategy," he added.