GOP senators believe they have the votes to block witnesses

It was clear to Senate Republicans on Wednesday after a morning meeting between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden stiff arms progressives on the Postal Service Biden clarifies any Russian movement into Ukraine 'is an invasion' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks, Senate balks MORE (R-Ky.) and Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiOssoff and Collins clash over her past support for voting rights legislation Senate GOP blocks election bill, setting up filibuster face-off Schumer prepares for Senate floor showdown with Manchin, Sinema MORE (R-Alaska) that the question of having additional witnesses is settled, and the Senate will vote Friday to wrap up the impeachment trial of President TrumpDonald TrumpPredictions of disaster for Democrats aren't guarantees of midterm failure A review of President Biden's first year on border policy  Hannity after Jan. 6 texted McEnany 'no more stolen election talk' in five-point plan for Trump MORE.

There was no discussion of witnesses at a Senate GOP lunch meeting Wednesday, which was held a couple hours after McConnell and Murkowski met for about 20 to 30 minutes.

That was seen as a sign by several senators that Democrats will fail to convince four Republicans to join them in calling for witnesses. Without a vote to hear from witnesses, the trial could end as soon as Friday. 

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“We’re going to get it done by Friday, hopefully,” Sen. Mike RoundsMike RoundsLawmakers press Biden admin to send more military aid to Ukraine The Memo: Is Trump the GOP's future or in rearview mirror? Some in GOP begin testing party's lockstep loyalty to Trump MORE (R-S.D.) said following the meeting.

Sen. Mike BraunMichael BraunThe Memo: Supreme Court, Sinema deliver twin blows to Biden How a nice-guy South Dakota senator fell into a Trump storm McConnell will run for another term as leader despite Trump's attacks MORE (R-Ind.), emerging from the lunch, said, “I think I can say the mood is good.”

Braun expressed confidence that McConnell will be able to keep his conference unified enough to defeat a motion to consider subpoenas for additional witnesses and documents.

“If I had to guess, no witnesses,” he said.

“We’ll be in a place where I think everyone is going to have their mind made up and I believe that we’ll be able to move to a verdict, and the witness question will be clear at that point,” Braun added.

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Murkowski did not attend the lunch.

Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyVoting rights and Senate wrongs Biden says minorities will vote no matter how hard GOP makes it The Memo: Is Trump the GOP's future or in rearview mirror? MORE (R-Utah), who has been the most outspoken advocate for calling additional witnesses, declined to comment as he left the lunch. 

Romney and Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsManchin, Collins leading talks on overhauling election law, protecting election officials Schumer opted for modest rules reform after pushback from moderates Ossoff and Collins clash over her past support for voting rights legislation MORE (R-Maine) are both expected to back witnesses. Murkowski has been seen as a third possible vote, though she had not announced any decision. 

Instead of discussing the possibility of having former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonFormer Trump officials plotting effort to blunt his impact on elections: report Equilibrium/Sustainability — Fire calls infrastructural integrity into question Will Biden's 2021 foreign policy failures reverberate in 2022? MORE appear as a witness in the trial at Wednesday's meeting, lawmakers talked about voting Friday to move quickly to an up-or-down vote on two articles of impeachment.

“There was no discussion about that today,” Rounds said. 

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Instead, Rounds said the discussion was about how “we’re moving forward.”

A report by The New York Times that said Bolton in his forthcoming book writes that Trump had linked the withholding of aid to Ukraine to that country conducting investigations of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden had given new energy to the witness debate.

Democrats have been clamoring to hear Bolton as a witness at the trial. 

Senators are asking questions to the House impeachment team and Trump's defense lawyers during today's impeachment session.