This is disillusioning but certainly not unexpected. Mitt Romney said Monday, “I think it’s increasingly likely that other Republicans will join those of us who think we should hear from John Bolton.” And Mitch McConnell’s response was that he didn’t have the votes to prevent witnesses from being called — but supposedly that’s all changed, as of Thursday morning McConnell has it all locked up. The Hill:
On Tuesday, the momentum for witnesses among Republicans had slowed but it was still a hot topic of conversation as they wrestled over the issue at a lunch meeting and then again at a 3 p. m. meeting held in a large room near McConnell’s Capitol office.
Romney appeared to recognize the momentum among fellow Republicans had shifted against witnesses and did not follow up his forceful call on Monday for Bolton’s testimony with other impassioned arguments at later meetings.
Apparently McConnell did his usual and spoke privately with each and every senator deemed “persuadable” to witnesses and has prevailed.
McConnell warned his fellow GOP senators that voting for a motion to consider additional witnesses and subpoenas would give Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) a chance to force votes on multiple subpoenas and could drag out the trial indefinitely.
He warned prolonging the trial would be a painful alternative path to the same result, an acquittal of Trump on the Senate floor.
Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) said McConnell told colleagues at the Tuesday lunch to “look at the big picture in terms of what” voting for witnesses “means” and warned them “whatever we do here sets the stage for what might occur in the future.”
By mid-day Wednesday, Senate Republicans allied with Trump felt the push from fellow Republican senators for additional witnesses and documents had collapsed.
Contrast this information with the fact that the newest Quinniapic poll shows 75% of respondents want to hear from more witnesses. Yet the Republicans are going to ignore the will of the people? Apparently so — and not for the first time. Washington Post:
The implication of the poll for Trump’s opponents is clear: Americans want witnesses, so let Bolton in. That line of thought, though, misses two important points.
The first is that Congress has repeatedly shown a remarkable disinterest in responding to the majority will of the electorate when possible. Take the example of expanded background checks for gun sales: In the abstract, legislation to that end consistently has the support of a wide majority of the country. Often, though, possible legislative responses are simply set aside, allowing members of Congress to avoid having to weigh in against the will of the people. When legislation is introduced, specific proposals are often picked apart and attacked on the basis of particular elements of the legislation.
That, as it turns out, is probably a good analogy for the debate over impeachment trial witnesses. What a celebration of that 75 percent figure buries is that the witnesses sought by the 95 percent of Democrats who support the idea are almost certainly not the same witnesses supported by that plurality of Republicans.
Granted, different witnesses are wanted by both sides for very different reasons. And it is plausible, likely even, given the analogy here of background checks, that McConnell will do what he does best, ignore and stonewall to the detriment of the issue at hand, but to his partisan advantage.
The question then becomes, why is this Republican-ruled senate in office, if it’s not there to serve the will of the people? If this kangaroo court which is in session does vote to acquit Trump Friday afternoon, then our only recourse lies at the ballot box in November. It is not democracy to ignore the will of 75% of the people — and this is not the only poll showing numbers in the 60’s and 70’s in support of evidence and witnesses — which are standard fare at any real trial.
The senate is not some privately owned business that can dictate to the people what it will and will not do. It is supposedly a democratically elected body for precisely the purpose of representing the will of the people. But McConnell may pull this off, we’ve certainly seen him do it in the past. And the idea that Romney will prevail could also be — as we have seen in the past — a passing mirage.
I must admit, though, given Romney’s track record of never taking a stance unless he’s got support behind him assured, that I believed some better alternative than rubber stamping Trump’s guilt with a governmental seal of approval was possible.