Collins to vote to allow witnesses in Trump impeachment trial

Collins to vote to allow witnesses in Trump impeachment trial
© Bonnie Cash

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTeam Trump offering 'fire hose' of conspiracy Kool-Aid for supporters Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks Hogan 'embarrassed that more people' in the GOP 'aren't speaking up' against Trump MORE (R-Maine) said Thursday night that she will vote to allow new witnesses and documents as part of President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden to nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield for UN ambassador: reports Scranton dedicates 'Joe Biden Way' to honor president-elect Kasich: Republicans 'either in complete lockstep' or 'afraid' of Trump MORE's impeachment trial in the Senate.

Collins is the first Republican senator to formally say she will vote yes on a blanket up-or-down vote, scheduled for Friday, that would open the door to hearing from new witnesses as part of the Senate proceeding.
"I believe hearing from certain witnesses would give each side the opportunity to more fully and fairly make their case, resolve any ambiguities, and provide additional clarity. Therefore, I will vote in support of the motion to allow witnesses and documents to be subpoenaed," Collins said in a statement.

The rules resolution that passed last week for the trial allows for a vote on whether to request new witnesses or documents. Collins, who is on the ballot in 2020, was part of a small group of Republican senators who worked to get the guarantee into the resolution. 

Democrats will need four Republicans to vote with them to allow witnesses as part of the trial. Or they will need three Republicans and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to step in to break a tie and side with them. Senators have suggested it's unlikely that Roberts will put himself in the middle of the political fight. 
The potential pool of GOP swing votes is quickly winnowing for Democrats. Sen. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranIt's time for Congress to act: Save jobs and stabilize the aerospace industry Lobbying world This World Suicide Prevention Day, let's recommit to protecting the lives of our veterans MORE (R-Kan.) announced on Thursday night that he will vote against witnesses. In a bigger blow to Democrats, Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderDemocrats gear up for last oversight showdown with Trump Trump nominee's long road to Fed may be dead end GOP lawmaker patience runs thin with Trump tactics MORE (R-Tenn.) also announced that he would oppose the effort to allow new witnesses. 
"There is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven and that does not meet the United States Constitution’s high bar for an impeachable offense," Alexander said in a statement. 
"I am going to reflect on what I have heard, re-read my notes and decide whether I need to hear more," Murkowski said in a statement after Thursday's session wrapped. 
If Democrats pull off an eleventh hour feat on the initial witnesses vote, both sides would then get to request specific individuals. The Senate would vote on each request with a simple majority needed to approve a witness or request documents. 
Democrats want to subpoena former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonPressure grows from GOP for Trump to recognize Biden election win Sunday shows - Virus surge dominates ahead of fraught Thanksgiving holiday Bolton calls on GOP leadership to label Trump's behavior 'inexcusable' MORE, acting chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyMick Mulvaney 'concerned' by Giuliani role in Trump election case On The Money: Senate releases spending bills, setting up talks for December deal | McConnell pushing for 'highly targeted' COVID deal | CFPB vet who battled Trump will lead Biden plans to overhaul agency Consumer bureau vet who battled Trump will lead Biden plans to overhaul agency MORE, Mulvaney's adviser Robert Blair and Michael Duffey, an Office of Management and Budget staffer. 
Trump's team and GOP allies have warned that if Bolton is called, it would not only spark a protracted legal battle, but they would also have a "long list" of witnesses they would want to testify, including Hunter Biden and the whistleblower who helped spark the House impeachment inquiry. 
Collins did not say which specific individuals she will support calling. 

“If this motion passes, I believe that the most sensible way to proceed would be for the House managers and the president’s attorneys to attempt to agree on a limited and equal number of witnesses for each side. If they can’t agree, then the Senate could choose the number of witnesses," Collins added.

Updated Jan. 30 at 11:29 p.m.