Paul predicts no Republicans will vote to convict Trump
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), one of President Trump’s top allies in Congress, says not a single Senate Republican will vote for either of the articles of impeachment, especially after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (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.
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 Graham (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.”
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 McConnell (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 Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
Paul says if moderate Republicans such as Collins and Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Lisa Murkowski (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.
“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 Biden, 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.