In a stunning turn of events on Tuesday afternoon, the Wall Street Journal and New York Times reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) admitted that he does not currently have the votes to block new witnesses from testifying in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.
NYT confirms: Mitch McConnell told a closed-door meeting of Republicans that he did not currently have the votes to block Democrats from calling witnesses at the trial. https://t.co/zaziP2KbaA
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 28, 2020
The situation in the Senate is extremely fluid. While McConnell expects to be able to maintain his red firewall and keep anyone else from being forced to testify, there are enough undecided Senators to make things interesting.
The key variable that could push some vulnerable Senators over the edge is the polling data that shows American voters overwhelmingly want to see former Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton testify in the trial, utterly mystified at the Republican refusal to even pretend to hold a fair trial. Quinnipiac found that 75% of voters agreed witnesses should be able to testify while Navigator Survey found 82% of voters wanted Bolton to testify in the Senate.
Normally, getting even 60% of American voters to agree on anything is a huge accomplishment, so these sky-high numbers must be sending chills down the spines of Senators up for re-election like Cory Gardner of Colorado and Susan Collins in Maine.
The testimony of John Bolton was catapulted into the heart of the impeachment trial with the release of his book manuscript, which alleges that he witnessed a direct link between Trump’s order to withhold military aid to Ukraine in order to coerce the Ukrainian government into opening sham investigations into Joe Biden and his son’s ethically questionable job on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.
The Democrats need 51 Senators to call new witnesses, meaning they would need at least 4 GOP defections — which Axios reports may be in the realm of possibility. Vulnerable Senators are in a real bind: do they vote for witnesses and risk the wrath of Trump, or do they vote against and risk the wrath of voters? Not to mention the desperate, quiet appeals of what little conscience may still flicker within them.
The vote is scheduled to take place on Friday, making the next 48 hours some of the most crucial hours in modern American history.
McConnell does not have the votes to block witnesses. Let's keep up the pressure. Call your senators, especially Collins in ME, Murkowski in AK, and Gardner in CO.
Senate switchboard 202-224-3121
Do it, then pass it on.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) January 28, 2020
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.