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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 TrumpHarry Reid reacts to Boehner book excerpt: 'We didn't mince words' Man arrested for allegedly threatening to stab undercover Asian officer in NYC Trump says GOP will take White House in 2024 in prepared speech 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 McConnellHarry Reid reacts to Boehner book excerpt: 'We didn't mince words' Democrats see opportunity in GOP feud with business Biden resists calls to give hard-hit states more vaccines than others MORE (R-Ky.). 
 
 
"But there didn't seem to be much support for it," he added. "Not at this point." 
 
Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstTrump faces test of power with early endorsements GOP looks to squeeze Biden, Democrats on border Blackburn introduces bill to require migrant DNA testing at border 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 RomneyTwo sheriff's deputies shot by gunman in Utah Romney blasts end of filibuster, expansion of SCOTUS On management of Utah public lands, Biden should pursue an accountable legislative process 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 MulvaneyHeadhunters having hard time finding jobs for former Trump officials: report Trump holdovers are denying Social Security benefits to the hardest working Americans Mulvaney calls Trump's comments on Capitol riot 'manifestly false' 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. 
 
 
 
"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 ThuneSunday shows preview: Democrats eye two-part infrastructure push; Michigan coronavirus cases surge Schumer kicks into reelection mode The Hill's Morning Report - Biden shifts on filibuster 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."