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Tipsheet

McConnell Has the Votes to Block Democrats' Calls for Impeachment Witnesses

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

Even though the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has held onto the articles of impeachment. She has continually demanded that the Senate impeachment trial is "fair," which Democrats argue means calling witnesses to testify. 

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has refused to comply with the Democrats' demands, especially since the Senate is under his control, not Nancy's. The Democrats needed four Republicans to vote in line with them in order to call witnesses. But it's looking like that won't be happening after all.

According to The Hill, McConnell has the votes to keep the Senate trial short, meaning new witness testimony and documents would not be included. Two of the moderate Republicans – Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) – are voting siding with McConnell. 

Both Collins and Murkowski believe the precedent set during the Clinton impeachment trial should be followed. They want to see House impeachment managers and Trump's defense team make their opening statement. Then, if necessary, the Senate could subpoena for additional documents and witness testimony. 

“The process moved to a period during which the Senate debated and voted that three witnesses should be deposed. I believe that this process — the Clinton approach — worked well,” Collins said in a statement.

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Murkowski said the Senate should make a decision about calling key witnesses, like former National Security Advisor John Bolton, after the articles of impeachment are actually sent to the Senate. 

“We don’t have anything to get to? So do you have any interesting news for me on that? Like when we might be able to get articles?” Murkwoski said. “I don’t think there is any decision on Bolton because we don’t have articles."

The fact that Collins and Murkowski are siding with Republicans is big. Democrats needed a simple majority in order to pass a resolution to call additional witnesses. That means they needed the entire Democratic Caucus, plus four Republicans, to make that resolution a reality. The Democrats were banking on moderates, like Collins and Murkowski, to vote with them.

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