Senate Republicans confident they'll win fight on witnesses

Senate Republican leaders feel confident they will have the votes to block the Democrats’ attempt to subpoena additional witnesses and documents in President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says voters should choose who nominates Supreme Court justice Trump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Pelosi: Trump Supreme Court pick 'threatens' Affordable Care Act MORE’s impeachment trial, which could allow the proceeding to wrap up by the end of next week.

While the House impeachment managers have one more day to lay out their case against the president, GOP leaders don’t think there are four Republican votes to subpoena additional evidence to extend the trial, according to multiple Senate GOP sources.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPelosi: Trump Supreme Court pick 'threatens' Affordable Care Act Will Democrats attempt to pack the Supreme Court again? Pelosi slams Trump executive order on pre-existing conditions: It 'isn't worth the paper it's signed on' MORE (N.Y.) at most can win three Republican votes to subpoena White House witnesses such as former National Security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonJudge appears skeptical of Bolton's defense of publishing book without White House approval Maximum pressure is keeping US troops in Iraq and Syria Woodward book trails Bolton, Mary Trump in first-week sales MORE and acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyOn The Money: House panel pulls Powell into partisan battles | New York considers hiking taxes on the rich | Treasury: Trump's payroll tax deferral won't hurt Social Security Blockchain trade group names Mick Mulvaney to board Mick Mulvaney to start hedge fund MORE and likely will not even get that.


“If I had to bet, it doesn’t get 50,” said one GOP senator, who requested anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Fifty votes would mean three GOP defections, one fewer than Democrats need to win.

The GOP senator said there’s little reason for Republicans to join Democrats in their push for witnesses, since it would be granting a significant victory to Schumer and a big defeat to both Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHawley warns Schumer to steer clear of Catholic-based criticisms of Barrett Senate GOP set to vote on Trump's Supreme Court pick before election Harris slams Trump's Supreme Court pick as an attempt to 'destroy the Affordable Care Act' MORE (R-Ky.).

It could also allow McConnell to call GOP witnesses such as Hunter Biden, the son of the former vice president. McConnell has previously threatened to do so.

“There's a feeling as we hear more about this of, ‘Where will it end if we go down the rabbit hole of more witnesses? How long will it go on if we enter into that Never-Never land?’” said the Republican senator,

So far only two Republicans have said they will likely vote to subpoena witnesses: Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate GOP set to vote on Trump's Supreme Court pick before election Democratic senator to party: 'A little message discipline wouldn't kill us' Poll: 57 percent of Americans think next president, Senate should fill Ginsburg vacancy MORE (Maine) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyCrenshaw looms large as Democrats look to flip Texas House seat The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Republicans lawmakers rebuke Trump on election Trump dumbfounds GOP with latest unforced error MORE (Utah).


A third moderate swing vote, Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenate GOP set to vote on Trump's Supreme Court pick before election Supreme Court fight pushes Senate toward brink Democratic senator to party: 'A little message discipline wouldn't kill us' MORE (R-Alaska), has played her cards close to the vest, giving little indication of which way she’s leaning.

Republican senators and aides say they have a hard time imagining who the fourth Republican to vote for witnesses would be if Murkowski supports a motion for witnesses.

None of the potential candidates, Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderPelosi urges early voting to counter GOP's high court gambit: 'There has to be a price to pay' Graham: GOP has votes to confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Washington on edge amid SCOTUS vacancy MORE (R-Tenn.), Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanMcConnell locks down key GOP votes in Supreme Court fight Romney undecided on authorizing subpoenas for GOP Obama-era probes Congress needs to prioritize government digital service delivery MORE (R-Ohio), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerBreaking the Chinese space addiction Trump dumbfounds GOP with latest unforced error Billionaire who donated to Trump in 2016 donates to Biden MORE (R-Colo.), Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallySenate GOP set to vote on Trump's Supreme Court pick before election Netflix distances from author's comments about Muslim Uyghurs but defends project On The Trail: Making sense of this week's polling tsunami MORE (R-Ariz.) and Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranLobbying world This World Suicide Prevention Day, let's recommit to protecting the lives of our veterans Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg acknowledges failure to take down Kenosha military group despite warnings | Election officials push back against concerns over mail-in voting, drop boxes MORE (R-Kan.), have shown much appetite to speak out against the president.

Whoever votes to subpoena Trump’s senior advisers would likely come under withering criticism from the president.

And an acquittal for Trump would still appear certain, since 67 votes would be needed to remove Trump from office.

As a result, a vote for witnesses would give more time for House Democratic prosecutors to make their case, but for little gain to individual Republicans. GOP lawmakers privately say it would be like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

A second Republican senator who requested anonymity to comment on colleagues’ deliberations predicted as many as three Republicans could vote to subpoena witnesses and documents, referring to Collins, Romney and Murkowski, but asserted it’s highly unlike a fourth Republican would do so.

“I don’t see it,” said the lawmaker.

Republican leaders are warning their colleagues that subpoenas of key witnesses and documents is likely to result in a court fight that could stretch the trial for months longer.

“Some of the proposed new witnesses include executive-branch officials whose communications with the president and with other executive-branch officials lie at the very core of the President’s constitutional privilege,” McConnell warned Tuesday.

“Pursuing those witnesses could indefinitely delay the Senate trial and draw our body into a protracted and complex legal fight over presidential privilege,” he added.

Rank-and-file members are starting to echo that argument.


Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for SCOTUS confirmation hearings before election The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump previews SCOTUS nominee as 'totally brilliant' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Ginsburg lies in repose MORE (R-Wis.) said if four Republicans vote with Democrats to subpoena witnesses and documents it could prolong the trial for “weeks and months.”

“The president does need to defend separation of power and executive privilege,” he added. “It never should have gone to an impeachment inquiry and we shouldn’t be here so I sure don’t want to elongate this process.”

Sen. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordMcConnell works to lock down GOP votes for coronavirus bill Charities scramble to plug revenue holes during pandemic Warren calls for Postal Service board members to fire DeJoy or resign MORE (R-Okla.) said parts of Bolton’s and Mulvaney’s testimony will be subject to executive privilege and have to be litigated in the courts, potentially extending the trial until the summer.

“That will take a couple of months to go through the process,” he said, suggesting the House managers want the trial to extend into the summer.

He said the managers want to “drag this trial out as long as possible. That’s really not our responsibility.”

That argument seems to be resonating with Murkowski, who expressed frustration Thursday that the House had not gone to the courts to get the evidence it wanted.


“The House made a decision that they didn’t want to slow things down by having to go through the courts. And yet now they're basically saying you guys gotta go through the courts. We didn't, but we need you to,” she said Thursday.

Beyond that, Republican moderates are starting to grumble about Democratic tactics more generally.

Two possible swing votes, Murkowski and Collins, said they were “offended” and “stunned,” respectively, by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerDemocrats shoot down talk of expanding Supreme Court Schumer: 'Nothing is off the table' if GOP moves forward with Ginsburg replacement Top Democrats call for DOJ watchdog to probe Barr over possible 2020 election influence MORE’s (D-N.Y.) argument for subpoenaing Bolton in which he called a vote against consideration of more evidence “treacherous.”

Romney earlier this week suggested that Democrats were overplaying their hand by protesting so vehemently against the trial’s organizing resolution.

“I think the Democrats make a mistake when they cry outrage time and time again. If everything is an outrage, then nothing is an outrage,” he said.