For months, despite failing to compel witnesses in the House impeachment inquiry, Democrats have demanded Senate Republicans break precedent to call additional witnesses in order to conduct a "fair" impeachment trial of President Trump.
In the past two days, demands for witnesses reached a fever pitch after the New York Times published reporting about the alleged contents of former National Security Director John Bolton's upcoming book.
Senate Republicans like Mitt Romney, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski have expressed an openness to new witnesses since the trial started, while also maintaining skepticism that the Senate should not conduct a legal battle over subpoenas the House failed to issue or enforce before voting on the articles.
But now, Fox Business is reporting McConnell doesn't have enough votes to block new witnesses from being called for testimony.
A source with knowledge of McConnell’s comments confirmed to Fox Business that the Kentucky Republican told people in a private meeting Tuesday that the GOP did not have the votes to block impeachment witnesses. A second source stressed that McConnell said he didn’t yet have the votes, with other sources saying Senate GOP leadership didn’t think the fight was over, and conversations were ongoing. The Wall Street Journal first reported McConnell’s comments.
This opens the door for witnesses on both sides, including Bolton, Hunter Biden, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, the whistleblower who complained about the July 25th call with Ukrainian President Zelensky and others.
Sen. @LindseyGrahamSC on witnesses: "I'll make a prediction; they'll be 51 Republican votes to call Hunter Biden, Joe Biden, the whistleblower and the DNC staffer at a very minimum." pic.twitter.com/jpoJIfzg7k— CSPAN (@cspan) January 28, 2020
While the White House has argued for a speedy trial, officials also state they have been prepared for a lengthy trial with new witnesses from the beginning.
Calling new witnesses in the Senate trial would break precedent. Every witness in the Clinton impeachment trial had been previously called in the House or deposed by the Department of Justice before articles of impeachment were transmitted to the Senate. The Senate is now being asked to engage in new discovery after the House failed and refused to compel witnesses to testify through the courts.
"Let's talk about some of the facts here, Chris."— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) January 27, 2020
The latest impeachment "bombshell" involving John Bolton has sparked some heated debates today, including one between Townhall's @KatiePavlich and Fox News' Chris Wallace. pic.twitter.com/kT6DdoqaEC