The Senate will vote on whether to call any witnesses in the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump on Jan. 31, but with a dearth of Republicans signaling a willingness to side with Democrats, witnesses are expected to be blocked.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) became the latest potential swing vote to announce late Thursday that hed vote against calling additional witnesses.
“I worked with other senators to make sure that we have the right to ask for more documents and witnesses, but there is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven and that does not meet the United States Constitutions high bar for an impeachable offense,” he said.
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) said Wednesday that hed also vote against calling witnesses. “I do not believe we need to hear from an 18th witness,” he said, referring to the 17 witnesses calling during the House impeachment inquiry.
With Alexander and Gardner voicing their opposition, Democrats face a dwindling number of GOP senators who might side with them in the witness vote.
“I hope we can get witnesses and documents. Its an uphill fight. Is it more likely than not? Probably no. But is it a decent, good chance? Yes,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters on Thursday.
Fridays trial will open with four hours of arguments about the need to call more witnesses. The Senate will then vote on the matter. The vote comes after senators submitted 180 questions, the vast majority of which were answered by House impeachment managers, Trumps legal team, or both.
Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said theyll vote for calling witnesses. Collins announced her vote late Thursday.
“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,” she said in a statement.
A Romney spokesman confirmed his upcoming vote on Friday, writing on Twitter that Romney “has said he wants to hear from Ambassador Bolton, and he will vote in favor of the motion today to consider witnesses.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said shed announce her decision on Friday but signaled skepticism that testimony from former National Security Advisor John Bolton would be relevant.
“Isnt it true that the allegations still would not rise to the level of an impeachable offense, and that therefore for this and other reasons his testimony would add nothing to the case?” a query from Murkowski and Alexander on Thursday read.
Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate. A simple majority is required to call additional witnesses. A tie could be broken by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, but he has rarely wielded his authority as the officer presiding over the trial.