GOP senator: Republicans don't have votes to dismiss impeachment articles

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynPush to investigate Bidens sets up potential for Senate turf war Pressure grows on House GOP leaders to hold line ahead of impeachment trial GOP senators warn Trump trade deal will go into 2020 if deal not reached this week MORE (R-Texas), an adviser to Senate Republican leadership, says there are not enough votes in the Senate to immediately dismiss any articles of impeachment passed by the House against President TrumpDonald John TrumpStates slashed 4,400 environmental agency jobs in past decade: study Biden hammers Trump over video of world leaders mocking him Iran building hidden arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles in Iraq: report MORE.

Republicans have discussed the possibility of quickly dismissing charges against Trump, which would just require 51 votes. But Cornyn said that would be a difficult hurdle for the GOP, which holds 53 seats in the Senate. 

“There’s some people talking about trying to stop the bill, dismiss charges basically as soon as they get over here. I think that’s not going to happen. That would require 51 votes,” Cornyn told reporters Wednesday.

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“I think it would be hard to find 51 votes to cut the case off before the evidence is presented,” he added.

Cornyn also said it would be better to have a trial in the Senate if the House impeaches Trump. 

The veteran GOP senator said “the better course would be to let each side have their say and then have the Senate vote and see if they can meet the two-thirds threshold” to convict the president on impeachment articles.

Convicting Trump would require 67 votes in the Senate or a two-thirds majority of those present, something that would require the votes of as many as 20 GOP senators.

Cornyn said it’s very unlikely that enough Republicans will vote to remove Trump from office. But he said GOP colleagues will want the issue vetted on the Senate floor with a trial.

“In the end, we need to have a process that the American people think was fair,” he said.

The House held the first public impeachment hearing in its inquiry on Wednesday. It has additional hearings scheduled on Friday and next week.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans Schumer briefs Democrats on impeachment trial 'mechanics' Trump legal team gears up for Senate impeachment trial in meeting with GOP senators MORE (R-Ky.) told GOP senators at a private meeting last month, at which he gave them a quick orientation of how an impeachment trial would proceed, that the president’s defense team could push a motion to dismiss at the start of the process.

Cornyn on Wednesday said he’s heard nothing from Trump’s defense team that it will advance an early motion to dismiss and advised them against going down that road.

“It takes 51 votes so I think they would be wise to consider the other option, which is let’s present the case and then have the Senate vote on the final decision,” he said.  

Other Senate Republicans have said a trial is needed, signaling early opposition to supporting a motion to dismiss.  

“I’ll follow what the leadership wants to do but I think that if it does come over to the Senate that we should afford due process to the whole journey, where that hasn’t been done coming to this point,” said Sen. Mike BraunMichael BraunTrump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans Pressure grows on House GOP leaders to hold line ahead of impeachment trial Senate approves stopgap bill to prevent shutdown MORE (R-Ind.), making reference to feelings among GOP senators that it would be important to conduct a fair trial in the Senate to serve as a counterpoint to what they see as the excessively partisan House impeachment investigation.

Braun said passing a motion to immediately dismiss articles of impeachment “would be probably the wrong thing to do” because it would not “clear the slate” of allegations against the president.

“My opinion would be that we’ve come this far and it probably ought to be heard,” he said.

Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he can’t make a decision now as to whether he would support a motion to dismiss but he indicated he would oppose shutting down arguments before both sides have a chance to make their case.

“I’m not going to support cutting off a trial because of somebody’s politics,” he said.