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The Hill's 12:30 Report: Senators brace for floor fight as trial nears end

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--> A midday take on what's happening in politics and how to have a sense of humor about it.*

*Ha. Haha. Hahah. Sniff. Haha. Sniff. Ha--breaks down crying hysterically.

 

The Hill's 12:30 Report: Impeachment trial nears endgame | Senators expect drawn-out floor fight | What to watch for | Romney, Collins to vote for witnesses; Alexander a 'no' | Three scenarios for how trial could play out | Bolton book reportedly says Trump asked him to set up Giuliani meeting in Ukraine | Race to finish line in Iowa | Biden backers worry about low-key campaign | Trump tries to steal Dem's thunder | Biden visits Dairy Queen | Super Bowl appetizers

 

NEWS THIS MORNING

Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneySanders says he can't support bipartisan COVID-19 relief proposal in its current form Romney blasts Trump lack of leadership during pandemic: 'It's a great human tragedy' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Congress inches closer to virus relief deal MORE, rebel ~with~ a cause:

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) will vote with Democrats to allow additional witnesses and documents in the impeachment trial against President TrumpDonald John TrumpAppeals court OKs White House diverting military funding to border wall construction Pentagon: Tentative meeting between spy agencies, Biden transition set for early next week Conservative policy director calls Section 230 repeal an 'existential threat' for tech MOREhttp://bit.ly/38X7ZWE

I.e.: Romney wants to hear from former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonDefense policy bill would create new cyber czar position Pressure grows from GOP for Trump to recognize Biden election win Sunday shows - Virus surge dominates ahead of fraught Thanksgiving holiday MORE

Is this a surprising move?: Not really. Romney has said he thinks Bolton should testify and was widely expected to vote in favor or witnesses.

Is Romney the only Republican to vote in favor?: No, Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Congress inches closer to virus relief deal Lawmakers pressure leaders to reach COVID-19 relief deal Biden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him MORE (R-Maine) announced last night that she will vote in favor of calling witnesses. Collins is a moderate Republican who up for reelection, so this wasn't surprising either. http://bit.ly/3aXgZwB

Who else to watch: Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderMcConnell chokes up saying goodbye to 'friend' Lamar Alexander in floor speech Mark Kelly sworn in to Senate seat Longtime GOP lawmaker urges Senate to restore itself in farewell speech MORE (R-Tenn.) announced last night that he will vote with Republicans. That means Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Congress inches closer to virus relief deal Lawmakers pressure leaders to reach COVID-19 relief deal Biden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him MORE (R-Alaska) is the only undecided Republican.

Where Democrats stand on the witness vote: Democrats need four Republican votes to call additional witnesses and documents. So far, they have two. It looks like Republicans will get two -- possibly three -- votes for witnesses, making a 50-50 vote. If Murkowski votes for witnesses that would put pressure on Chief Justice John Roberts from Democrats to break the tie. But senators on both sides seem confident he won't.

 

CAN'T STOP ME NOW:

Here's a sketch of Romney drinking chocolate milk on the Senate floor -- BYU Creamery chocolate milk, I might add. Sketch from the Senate floor: http://bit.ly/2UdbTq7

 

Happy Friday! January is finally coming to an end after what has felt like its own year.

 

Filing from New Hampshire in the lead-up to the presidential primary in 11 days, I'm Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what's coming up. Send comments, story ideas and events for our radar to cmartel@thehill.com -- and follow along on Twitter @CateMartel and Facebook.

 

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LATEST WITH THE IMPEACHMENT TRIAL

Breaking — to the manuscript:

Via The New York Times’s Maggie HabermanMaggie Lindsy HabermanThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Capital One — Giuliani denies discussing preemptive pardon with Trump Giuliani has discussed possible pardon with Trump: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump OKs transition; Biden taps Treasury, State experience MORE and Michael S. Schmidt, “More than two months before he asked Ukraine’s president to investigate his political opponents, President Trump directed John R. Bolton, then his national security adviser, to help with his pressure campaign to extract damaging information on Democrats from Ukrainian officials, according to an unpublished manuscript by Mr. Bolton.” More from the manuscript: https://nyti.ms/3aWkTpw

Just now — President Trump responded to the Times report: "I never instructed John Bolton to set up a meeting for Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiHow Trump's election lawsuits became his worst nightmare Michigan voter fraud hearing goes viral for alleged flatulence, unruly witness Trump hits Barr over voter fraud remarks: 'He hasn't looked' MORE, one of the greatest corruption fighters in America and by far the greatest mayor in the history of N.Y.C., to meet with President Zelensky. That meeting never happened." http://bit.ly/2tm7ypG

 

Happening today -- But first, a floor fight:

Via The Hill's Alexander Bolton and Jordain Carney, "the Senate is moving into the final phase of President Trump's impeachment trial, but senators expect a drawn-out floor fight before final votes on two articles of impeachment either late Friday or early Saturday morning." http://bit.ly/3aYU7gi

Livestream of today's trial: It unsurprisingly starts at 1 p.m. EST. https://cs.pn/2RHHZIX

 

THREE SCENARIOS FOR HOW THE TRIAL COULD PLAY OUT:

Scenario One: The Senate rejects calling witnesses and moves to acquit Trump: "This appears to be the most likely outcome as the pool of potential Republican votes is quickly shrinking." 

Scenario Two: The Senate deadlocks in a 50-50 tie: "Normally when the Senate deadlocks, Vice President Pence is taxied to the chamber so he can cast a deciding vote. But Pence does not have a role in the Senate's trial, as Chief Justice John Roberts is the presiding officer. If Roberts casts a tie-breaking vote, he would put himself in the middle of a fierce political fight."

Scenario Three: The Senate votes to call witnesses: The most unlikely scenario at this point. "Democrats must win over four GOP senators to win the witness vote, or three senators with the backing of Roberts, which would lengthen the trial. With Alexander and Sen. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranSweeping financial crimes bill to hitch a ride on defense measure It's time for Congress to act: Save jobs and stabilize the aerospace industry Lobbying world MORE (R-Kansas) both saying they will oppose witnesses, this option looks increasingly unlikely." 

Context and details for each scenario from The Hill's Jordain Carney: http://bit.ly/2S90YuL

 

NEW DETAIL -- WHY THE TRIAL COULD DRAG ON UNTIL NEXT WEDNESDAY:

Via Politico's John Bresnahan, "The Senate impeachment trial for President Donald Trump could drag into next week, even as GOP leaders appear to have the votes needed to prevent additional witnesses and testimony from being offered, according to Republican senators and aides." https://politi.co/2u6YKEp

Why: "Republican sources suggest the trial could extend into Wednesday of next week. The House Democratic managers and the White House want more time for closing arguments, and there are scheduling concerns due to the Iowa caucuses on Monday and Trump's State of the Union address on Tuesday." 

 

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

Show us your photos, senator!: Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyGovernment used Patriot Act to gather website visitor logs in 2019 Top GOP senator warns government funding deal unlikely this week Incoming Congress looks more like America MORE (D-Vt.) has been snapping photos on his camera throughout the trial. Photo of Leahy taking a photo in the Senate: http://bit.ly/2RMRNBA

John Roberts is still perfecting his poker face: "This is how Chief Justice looked at [Sen. Elizabeth] Warren [D-Mass.] for a solid 5+ seconds after reading the question" (Via WFLA's Heather Monahan) Photo: http://bit.ly/36NufAC

^Back story to his facial expression: In her question, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenCan Biden find a third way between Trumpism and Obama-era globalism? Left seeks to influence Biden picks while signaling unity Schwarzenegger says he would 'absolutely' help Biden administration MORE (D-Mass.) asked, "At a time when large majorities of Americans have lost faith in government, does the fact that the chief justice is presiding over an impeachment trial in which Republican senators have thus far refused to allow witnesses or evidence contribute to the loss of legitimacy of the chief justice, the Supreme Court, and the Constitution?"  http://bit.ly/38SOSgj

Oh mannnn, this caption is perfect:

See for yourself -- watch: http://bit.ly/37J7sXW

This is a pretty accurate impersonator: A John Bolton impersonator was on Capitol Hill yesterday. Photo: http://bit.ly/2OivDEZ

 

IN THE WHITE HOUSE

This sounds to me like someone who has no idea who is playing in the Super Bowl:

Via CNN's Ryan StruykPresident Trump was asked this morning who he wants to win in the Super Bowl. http://bit.ly/2RLVE1q

Trump's response: "Well, I love them both, let's just say. But I will tell you, some two very interesting teams and interesting players, some really great players. And it's going to be hopefully a great Super Bowl." 

  

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL

Hello, it is me. The shiny object:

Via The Hill's Niall Stanage in Des Moines, Iowa, President Trump tried to steal Democrats' thunder last night by holding a campaign rally in the Hawkeye State. http://bit.ly/37RDLnS

"Trump's rally, held at a packed 7,000-capacity arena at Drake University, was a clear piece of counterprogramming, aimed at ensuring that Democrats 'just down the street' cannot drown out the president's voice in Iowa as the climax of their highly competitive contest looms." 

 

ALSO FROM IOWA -- BIDEN BACKERS ARE A BIT CONCERNED:

Via The Hill's Reid Wilson in Waukee, Iowa, "as [former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenAppeals court OKs White House diverting military funding to border wall construction Federal student loan payment suspension extended another month Pentagon: Tentative meeting between spy agencies, Biden transition set for early next week MORE's] rivals draw large crowds of energetic supporters in a variety of communities between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, some of his fans worry that Biden's decidedly more low-key approach underscores a glaring weakness: Everyone likes Joe Biden. Few seem enthusiastic about him." http://bit.ly/2S5kush

 

Dairy Queen sounds great right now, tbh:

 

Op-ed: http://bit.ly/2UbSdmw

 

NOTABLE TWEETS

Fancy running into you here!:

 

Behind-the-scenes — this is pretty funny to watch:   

Watch: http://bit.ly/37GI0Ct

  

ON TAP

The Senate is in. The House is out. President Trump is in Washington, D.C., and heads to Mar-a-Lago this afternoon. Vice President Pence is in D.C.

12:15 p.m. EST: President Trump speaks at the White House Summit on Human Trafficking: The 20th Anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. Vice President Pence also attends.

4 p.m. EST: President Trump and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpDC attorney general: Ivanka Trump 'highly misleading' on lawsuit deposition Biden warns Americans against traveling for Christmas McEnany hits Democratic leaders for not following their own COVID-19 restrictions MORE leave the White House and head to the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla.

 

WHAT TO WATCH

1 p.m. EST: The Senate impeachment trial continues. Livestream: https://cs.pn/2RHHZIX

7 p.m. EST: Bon Iver plays a concert in Clive, Iowa, in support of Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOn The Money: Unemployment gains lower than expected | Jobs report lights fire under coronavirus relief talks Sanders says he can't support bipartisan COVID-19 relief proposal in its current form Progressives push for direct payments to be included in COVID-19 relief deal MORE (I-Vt.) Livestream: https://cs.pn/36NbEoe

6:30 p.m. EST Sunday: Super Bowl LIV. Game preview and how to watch: http://bit.ly/37K813H

 

NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF...

Today is National Hot Chocolate Day.

 

The best part of the Super Bowl:

Via Country Living, here's a list of 75 Super Bowl appetizer ideas. I'm looking at you, pepperoni pizza stuffed mushrooms. The list: http://bit.ly/390bcV5

 

And to get your weekend off to the right start, here are panda cubs trying to figure out how walking works: http://bit.ly/3b2hPIi