Top Senate Republicans signaled Tuesday that the GOP may opt against calling any witnesses at all in an upper chamber trial if House Democrats vote to impeach President Donald Trump, offering numerous reasons for such a strategy.
What are the details?
The Washington Examiner spoke with several GOP lawmakers who floated the possibility of calling few witnesses or none whatsoever, with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) making the case for expedience in telling the outlet, “Here’s what I want to avoid: this thing going on longer than it needs to. I want to end this.”
Third-ranking GOP Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.) asserted that after House Democrats and the White House have made their arguments at the beginning of the prospective Senate trial, “I would expect that most members would be ready to vote and wouldn’t need more information,” adding, “Many people have their minds pretty well made up.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Reuters that at that point in the trial, it could go one of two ways: “Down the path of calling witnesses and basically having another trial,” or, a majority of senators coming together and deciding “that they’ve heard enough and they believe they know what would happen and could move to vote on the two articles of impeachment sent over to us by the House.”
Both The Examiner and Reuters noted that there is no indication at this point that the Republican-led Senate would vote to impeach the president, and both also pointed out that President Trump has pressed for calling GOP witnesses in the Senate trial.
Last week, the Commander in Chief tweeted that key impeachment figures such as the whistleblower, Hunter Biden, and former Vice President Joe Biden will be called to testify in order to “reveal, for the first time, how corrupt our system really is.”
One GOP senator told the Examiner on the prospect of calling Hunter Biden, “How many senators would enjoy a Trump rally? That’s probably your whip count for calling Hunter.” Even if enough Democrats did agree to such a witness being called, the outlet further noted, the trade-off would likely be asking for high-profile witnesses in the Trump administration to testify, such as Vice President Mike Pence or Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), for his part, has said he hopes for a “full” and “open” trial in the upper chamber.
The trial, however long it goes on, will delay the Senate’s passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement known as USMCA — a major deal coordinated by the Trump administration to replace NAFTA — which House Democrats agreed to on Tuesday after negotiations with the White House. Both parties have claimed victory over the agreement.