Senate Democrats do not appear to have the votes that they need to prolong President Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial by calling for more witnesses and documents.
Fox News senior reporter Chad Pergram wrote: “Senate does not appear to have the votes to open the door to witnesses tomorrow night. Collins and Romney for witnesses. Alexander opposed. Even if Murkowski is a yes, they don’t have the votes. 50-50 vote is a tie, which by rule, fails.”
Senate does not appear to have the votes to open the door to witnesses tomorrow night. Collins and Romney for witnesses. Alexander opposed. Even if Murkowski is a yes, they don’t have the votes. 50-50 vote is a tie, which by rule, fails
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) January 31, 2020
Pergram noted that if Democrats do not have the votes needed to call for more witnesses that “the Senate would then vote for verdicts on both articles.”
Pergram’s analysis came immediately after Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) announced just minutes prior that he was not in favor of calling for additional witnesses and documents in the trial.
The New York Times noted that Alexander’s decision was “a strong indication that Republicans have lined up the votes to block a call for more documents and witnesses like the former national security adviser, John R. Bolton,” but warned “Democrats are hinting at a gambit to frustrate the Republicans’ plans, though Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, has refused to tip his hand.”
As noted by Pergram, Collins and Romney were both a “yes” for calling for additional witnesses in the trial.
In a statement, Collins said:
We have heard the cases argued and the questions answered. In keeping with the model used for the impeachment trial of President Clinton, at this point, Senators are able to make an informed judgment about what is in dispute and what is important to the underlying issues.
I worked with colleagues to ensure the schedule for the trial included a guaranteed up-or-down vote on whether or not to call witnesses. 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. Therefore, I will vote in support of the motion to allow witnesses and documents to be subpoenaed.
If this motion passes, I believe that the most sensible way to proceed would be for the House Managers and the President’s attorneys to attempt to agree on a limited and equal number of witnesses for each side. If they can’t agree, then the Senate could choose the number of witnesses.
There was speculation online among top reporters as to the reasoning behind Collins’ decision.
Journalist Yashar Ali noted a likely scenario, writing: “Gotta wonder…did Susan Collins issue a statement that she was voting YES on witnesses and more documents because she knew that Senator Alexander was voting NO? Election year protection? I think we know the answer.”
Gotta wonder…did Susan Collins issue a statement that she was voting YES on witnesses and more documents because she knew that Senator Alexander was voting NO?
Election year protection?
I think we know the answer
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) January 31, 2020
In a statement late on Thursday night, Alexander wrote:
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 Constitution’s high bar for an impeachable offense.
There is no need for more evidence to prove that the president asked Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter; he said this on television on October 3, 2019, and during his July 25, 2019, telephone call with the president of Ukraine. There is no need for more evidence to conclude that the president withheld United States aid, at least in part, to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens; the House managers have proved this with what they call a ‘mountain of overwhelming evidence.’ There is no need to consider further the frivolous second article of impeachment that would remove the president for asserting his constitutional prerogative to protect confidential conversations with his close advisers.
It was inappropriate for the president to ask a foreign leader to investigate his political opponent and to withhold United States aid to encourage that investigation. When elected officials inappropriately interfere with such investigations, it undermines the principle of equal justice under the law. But the Constitution does not give the Senate the power to remove the president from office and ban him from this year’s ballot simply for actions that are inappropriate.
The question then is not whether the president did it, but whether the United States Senate or the American people should decide what to do about what he did. I believe that the Constitution provides that the people should make that decision in the presidential election that begins in Iowa on Monday.
The Senate has spent nine long days considering this ‘mountain’ of evidence, the arguments of the House managers and the president’s lawyers, their answers to senators’ questions and the House record. Even if the House charges were true, they do not meet the Constitution’s ‘treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors’ standard for an impeachable offense.
The framers believed that there should never, ever be a partisan impeachment. That is why the Constitution requires a 2/3 vote of the Senate for conviction. Yet not one House Republican voted for these articles. If this shallow, hurried and wholly partisan impeachment were to succeed, it would rip the country apart, pouring gasoline on the fire of cultural divisions that already exist. It would create the weapon of perpetual impeachment to be used against future presidents whenever the House of Representatives is of a different political party.
Our founding documents provide for duly elected presidents who serve with ‘the consent of the governed,’ not at the pleasure of the United States Congress. Let the people decide.