Paul predicts no Republicans will vote to convict Trump

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulFlorida Republican becomes sixth member of Congress to test positive for coronavirus Zoom, grocery delivery, self-isolation: How lawmakers are surviving coronavirus Rand Paul volunteering at hospital after negative coronavirus test MORE (R-Ky.), one of President TrumpDonald John TrumpSanders says he wouldn't 'drop dead' if Trump decided on universal healthcare Overnight Health Care: Trump officials lay groundwork for May reopening | Democrats ramp up talks with Mnuchin on next relief deal | Fauci says death toll could be around 60,000 Hillicon Valley: State officials push for more election funds | Coronavirus surveillance concerns ramp up pressure for privacy bill | Senators warned not to use Zoom | Agencies ask FCC to revoke China Telecom's license MORE’s top allies in Congress, says not a single Senate Republican will vote for either of the articles of impeachment, especially after Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi calls for investigation into reports of mistreatment of pregnant women in DHS custody Wisconsin highlights why states need a bipartisan plan that doesn't include Democrats federalizing elections Pelosi defends push for mail-in voting: GOP 'afraid' to let people vote MORE (D-Calif.) failed to pick up a single Republican in the House.

“I really think the verdict has already been decided as well. I don’t think any Republicans are going to vote for impeachment,” Paul told The Hill in an interview Thursday.  

And he says Democrats have all made up their minds, too — even before Chief Justice John Roberts has arrived at the Senate to swear in lawmakers as jurors.

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The opening arguments in the trial will not start until Tuesday, and the proceedings are expected to last past the State of the Union address in February.

But some senators are wondering if it’s worth having a long trial.

“I think the votes have been decided. As much as anybody will be pretending to be judicious about this, I don’t think that there’s one senator who hasn’t decided how they’re going to vote,” Paul said.  

The foregone conclusion: All 53 GOP senators will vote to acquit Trump on two articles of impeachment, while all 45 Democrats and the two Independents who caucus with them will vote guilty on one or two of the articles.

The expectation, widely shared within the Senate GOP conference, reflects a growing impatience among Republicans to get the trial over with as quickly as possible and creates a headwind against calling additional witnesses.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamBipartisan senators call on China to close all wet markets Bipartisan lawmakers call for global 'wet markets' ban amid coronavirus crisis Trump attacks WHO amid criticism of his coronavirus response MORE (R-S.C.) expressed an irritation shared by many — though not all — Republicans when he said “the best thing for the American people is to end this crap as quickly as possible.”

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Paul said he would be “very, very surprised” if any GOP senator votes for an article of impeachment, “particularly after the way we’ve seen the House go.”

Many of his GOP colleagues were turned off by what they saw as a partisan and rushed House inquiry.

He also warned that a GOP vote to impeach Trump would be a career-ending decision.

“I think if you’re pretty much no longer interested in running for office, or no longer interested in getting Republican votes, you might vote to impeach the president,” he said. “This isn’t just a policy difference.”

Paul acknowledged that he and other Republicans have broken with Trump on key votes, such as limiting his war powers or expressing opposition to the national emergency declaration that allowed him to shift military funding to the border wall.

But he said the impeachment vote is a whole different order of magnitude.

“When it comes to whether or not you’re going to impeach a president of your own party, particularly over a policy difference or whether or not he has lack of decorum or whatever, I think that’s something that a lot of voters will not excuse,” he said.

At a regular criminal trial, jurors are supposed to keep an open mind. Some senators are thinking that way for the impeachment trial, but many are not.

“I’m not an impartial juror. This is a political process,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Former Trump advisor Bossert says to test the well, not ill; Senate standoff on next relief bill McCarthy slams Democrats on funding for mail-in balloting Harris, Ocasio-Cortez among Democrats calling for recurring direct payments in fourth coronavirus bill MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters last month.

The GOP leader said senators all have political interests and would be disqualified in any normal trial.

“The very things that make the Senate the right forum to settle impeachments would disqualify all of us from any ordinary trial,” he said recently.

That means the biggest drama of the trial will be whether four GOP senators vote with Democrats to subpoena additional witnesses such as former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonChina sees chance to expand global influence amid pandemic Trump ignores science at our peril Bolton defends decision to shutter NSC pandemic office MORE and acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyOne year in, Democrats frustrated by fight for Trump tax returns Meadows joins White House in crisis mode Meadows resigns from Congress, heads to White House MORE.

Paul says if moderate Republicans such as Collins and Sens. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyTwo Democrats roll out bill to protect inspectors general from politically motivated firing Senators demand more details from Trump on intel watchdog firing Zoom, grocery delivery, self-isolation: How lawmakers are surviving coronavirus MORE (R-Utah) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiHouse Republicans threaten pushback on Saudi Arabia amid oil market slump Zoom, grocery delivery, self-isolation: How lawmakers are surviving coronavirus Lawmakers announce legislation to fund government purchases of oil MORE (R-Alaska) vote to call Bolton or Mulvaney to testify, they should also vote to call witnesses Trump wants, such as Hunter Biden or the unnamed whistleblower.

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“My argument has been we let both sides bring everybody they want, or we bring no one,” he said.

“The Democrats yesterday were coming over saying, ‘It can’t be a fair trial unless we have relevant witnesses.’ Well, relevance is in the eye of the beholder,” Paul said.

“My guess if the Democrats are confronted with bringing in Hunter Biden, Joe BidenJoe BidenSteyer endorses Biden for president Sanders 2020 press secretary: Democratic leadership interested in 'corporate status quo' or 'they're planning to replace Joe' Biden joins calls to release racial breakdowns of coronavirus cases, deaths MORE, who the president says he was investigating for corruption — or bringing in the whistleblower — I’m guessing no Democrats vote to let them come in,” he added.

Paul said he plans to submit a motion to allow Trump’s lawyers to subpoena any witnesses they want to bring in.