Republicans show little enthusiasm for impeachment witness swap

Republican senators discussed the idea of an impeachment witness swap, where they could call a witness for House managers in return for the same number for President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump defends indicted GOP congressman House to vote Thursday on holding Bannon in contempt Youngkin calls for investigation into Loudoun County School Board amid sexual assault allegations MORE, during a closed-door caucus meeting on Monday. 
 
 
The New York Times reported on Sunday night that Bolton, in his book, claims that Trump linked $391 million in Ukraine aid to the country helping with investigations into Democrats, including former Vice President Biden and his son Hunter Biden. 
 
But GOP senators signaled that the idea of a swap didn't currently have much support within the caucus, nor does it have the blessing of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFixing Congress requires fixing how it legislates McConnell: GOP should focus on future, not 'rehash' 2020 Hoyer: Democrats 'committed' to Oct. 31 timeline for Biden's agenda MORE (R-Ky.). 
 
 
"But there didn't seem to be much support for it," he added. "Not at this point." 
 
Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstDemocrat Mike Franken launches challenge to Grassley in Iowa Trump heads to Iowa as 2024 chatter grows Photos of the Week: Manchin, California oil spill and a podium dog MORE (R-Iowa), asked about the potential of a one-for-one deal and the discussion within the GOP lunch, argued that witnesses wouldn't "change the facts in this case."
 
 
 
Under the theory, spearheaded by Cruz, if four GOP senators side with Democrats and subpoena Bolton, Republicans should also call someone off of Trump's witness wishlist, like Hunter Biden. 
 
"Ted and I have been talking about reciprocity on witnesses. ...I don't think Pat originated it," said Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), asked about the idea of a swap. "He just, I guess, would be comfortable with it."
 
Asked about McConnell's input on the idea of a witness swap, Braun noted the idea was coming from other senators, like Cruz, and not the GOP leader. 
 
"He has not talked at all about witnesses," Braun said. 
 
The GOP leader has said publicly and privately that he wants to wrap the trial without witnesses. Opening the door to witnesses, McConnell and top allies have warned, could drag out the impeachment trial for weeks, if not months. 
 
But Bolton's forthcoming book has raised new questions about if four Republicans will break with Democrats and call him to testify. A GOP aide confirmed that Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyTrump-backed bills on election audits, illegal voting penalties expected to die in Texas legislature The Memo: Conservatives change their tune on big government Defense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals MORE (R-Utah) argued during the GOP lunch that the Senate needed to hear from Bolton. 
 
Rounds added that "several different options" were thrown out during lunch about which witnesses would be included in the potential trade off. 
 
In addition to Bolton, Democrats have talked about wanting to call acting chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyJan. 6 committee issues latest round of subpoenas for rally organizers The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - To vote or not? Pelosi faces infrastructure decision Jan. 6 panel subpoenas 11, including Pierson, other rally organizers MORE; Robert Blair, Mulvaney's adviser and Michael Duffey, an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) staffer. 
 
 
If Republicans are going to pull off the witness swap, they would have to go it alone and put up the 51 votes to call a Trump-preferred witness from their own 53-member caucus. 
 
Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerFixing Congress requires fixing how it legislates Beware the tea party of the left Bottom line MORE (D-N.Y.), have shot down talk of agreeing to subpoena Hunter Biden in exchange for hearing from Bolton. 
 
 
"I would agree strongly against becoming co-conspirators with the Trump administration," Murphy told reporters. 
 
The message from McConnell to Republicans during the closed-door lunch was to keep their powder dry on the question of witnesses until they get closer to Friday's vote. 

 
Senate Majority Whip John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneDemocrats narrow scope of IRS proposal amid GOP attacks Senate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair GOP rallies around Manchin, Sinema MORE (R-S.D.), asked about the potential witnesses, described the discussions as "fluid," and that McConnell was urging his caucus to "stay calm." 
 
"I just think it's too early to say," he said asked about GOP support for witnesses. "I would describe it as ... fairly fluid."