Senate Republicans are about to “screw up” the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, experts are warning.
According to The Washington Examiner, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell won’t call any friendly witnesses on behalf of the president.
And he’s not planning to offer any defense.
His strategy will be to simply let Democrats “rattle on and on” and, when they’re finished, call a vote. Republican senators reportedly don’t have the “appetite” to call controversial witnesses.
In fact, there may be no witnesses at all.
“Senate Republicans do not expect to call witnesses President Trump might want to hear from most in an impeachment trial, conceding there are not the votes to summon key figures such as Hunter Biden and the unidentified government whistleblower whose complaint sparked the process,” The Washington Examiner reported.
Senate rules require a majority vote to call witnesses to testify at an impeachment trial. Republicans currently control 53 of the 100 seats in the Senate, giving them just two votes to spare.
Fearing political embarrassment, McConnell and his Republican colleagues said they don’t want to risk calling witnesses that Democrats had previously blocked during the House impeachment hearing.
“Indeed, Republicans might forgo calling witnesses altogether, saying minds are made up on Trump’s guilt or innocence and that testimony at trial on the Senate floor would draw out the proceedings unnecessarily,” The Washington Examiner reported.
Senate Republicans say they want to end the debate now, not draw out a lengthy trial with witness testimony and cross-examination.
“Here’s what I want to avoid: this thing going on longer than it needs to,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said when asked about witnesses by The Washington Examiner. “I want to end this.”
“I think a protracted period where there are motions to call witnesses offered by both sides and lots of votes … is not going to be terribly popular with either side. I think there’s going to be a desire to wrap this up in at least somewhat of a timely way,” Sen. John Thune, R-S.C., told reporters Wednesday.
A move to cut the trial short and proceed immediately to a vote would be controversial. Trump’s administration has circled the Senate impeachment trial as a chance to win exoneration for the president.
RedState’s Bonchie criticized the move as “politically dumb” and questioned how it would look to voters heading towards the 2020 election.
“If [voters] see Republicans completely avoid the process, just going straight to a vote, it’s going to play right into Democrat claims that the system is being gamed,” Bonchie wrote. “This is a rare opportunity to turn the tables, and to instead hand the left yet another talking point seems ridiculously stupid to me.”
At the White House, Trump has said he wants his Republican allies to use the impeachment trial to fight back. The president wants specific witnesses, including former Vice President Joe Biden, called forward and questioned by the GOP-controlled Senate.
“I know the president has made clear he wants Adam Schiff, he wants Hunter Biden, he wants Joe Biden, and many others,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said Tuesday. “But, we don’t have a witness list past what he has already said publicly.”
The historic impeachment trial of Trump is set to begin in January.
The Democrat-led House of Representatives is expected to move forward with the trial in a number of votes along party lines, the first of which could happen Thursday.
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The Horn editorial team