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 TrumpRussian sanctions will boomerang States, cities rethink tax incentives after Amazon HQ2 backlash A Presidents Day perspective on the nature of a free press 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 SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerBarr to testify before House Judiciary panel Graham won't call Barr to testify over Roger Stone sentencing recommendation Roger Stone witness alleges Trump targeted prosecutors in 'vile smear job' MORE (N.Y.) at most can win three Republican votes to subpoena White House witnesses such as former National Security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonTrump unleashed: President moves with a free hand post-impeachment Barr back on the hot seat The Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in MORE and acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyTrump declares war on hardworking Americans with new budget request Scaramucci thanks John Kelly for speaking up against Trump Trump lashes out over Kelly criticism: 'He misses the action' MORE and likely will not even get that.

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“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 McConnellSenate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony Trump declares war on hardworking Americans with new budget request The Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in 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 braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony Toward 'Super Tuesday' — momentum, money and delegates Trump unleashed: President moves with a free hand post-impeachment MORE (Maine) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyDonald Trump: Unrepentant, on the attack and still playing the victim The Hill's Campaign Report: New challenges for 2020 Dems in Nevada, South Carolina Yes, Democrats have to defend their African-American base against Trump MORE (Utah).

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A third moderate swing vote, Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in Overnight Defense: Senate votes to rein in Trump war powers on Iran | Pentagon shifting .8B to border wall | US, Taliban negotiate seven-day 'reduction in violence' Ocasio-Cortez blasts Trump as 'corrupt' for blocking Global Entry for New Yorkers 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 AlexanderThe Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in Overnight Defense: Senate votes to rein in Trump war powers on Iran | Pentagon shifting .8B to border wall | US, Taliban negotiate seven-day 'reduction in violence' The 8 Republicans who voted to curb Trump's Iran war powers MORE (R-Tenn.), Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanGOP senators offering bill to cement business provision in Trump tax law Mnuchin defends Treasury regulations on GOP tax law Bipartisan lawmakers introduce bill to combat cyberattacks on state and local governments MORE (R-Ohio), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerSenate Democrats pressure Trump to drop ObamaCare lawsuit Impeachment fallout threatens to upend battle for Senate MoveOn targets vulnerable GOP senators with ad campaign following impeachment MORE (R-Colo.), Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyEleventh Democratic presidential debate to be held in Phoenix The Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats brace for New Hampshire results McConnell: GOP has 'internal divisions' on bill to lower drug prices MORE (R-Ariz.) and Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranThe Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in Overnight Defense: Senate votes to rein in Trump war powers on Iran | Pentagon shifting .8B to border wall | US, Taliban negotiate seven-day 'reduction in violence' The 8 Republicans who voted to curb Trump's Iran war powers 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.

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Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSenate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony Father of Parkland shooting victim calls on Congress to take action Senators to meet with Zelensky after impeachment trial 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 LankfordSenate drama surrounding Trump trial starts to fizzle The Hill's Morning Report - Trump defense rests, GOP struggles to bar witnesses GOP confident of win on witnesses 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.

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“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 NadlerTrump adviser presses House investigators to make Bezos testify Nadler demands answers from Barr on 'new channel' for receiving Ukraine info from Giuliani Trump predicts Ocasio-Cortez will launch primary bid against Schumer 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.