It’s looking like the Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump may, at some point, include a vote on whether to call witnesses like former national security adviser John Bolton—though Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will be working as hard as he can to prevent that. A key question at this point is how much that vote will be typical theater by Sen. Susan Collins, pretending to seriously consider breaking with her party while ensuring that the vote will go as McConnell wants.
Sens. Mitt Romney and Lamar Alexander have both expressed support for votes on witnesses—though not until a trial is underway. “I’m not going to be voting for witnesses prior to the opening arguments. But I presume I’ll be voting for that after,” said Romney.
”It’s important to have a vote on whether we have witnesses or not,” Alexander said, though he refused to say whether he expected to vote yes or no himself, ensuring that he’ll spend the coming weeks being heavily lobbied to protect Trump.
Top Senate Republicans meanwhile said they planned to go with a trial and then vote on conviction or acquittal, rather than moving to dismiss quickly. That’s despite a Trump tweet calling for dismissal—in part because Republicans have learned to ignore Trump’s tweets whenever possible. “At different times the president has expressed different views. But I wouldn’t get too distracted by an intervening tweet,” according to Sen. John Cornyn.
And when you don’t have the votes to dismiss quickly, it’s in your interest to pretend that a trial and vote to acquit is the better choice anyway, a lesson Trump apparently hasn’t learned as well as McConnell.