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McConnell Has the Votes to Block Witnesses in Senate Impeachment Trial

Publisher's note: This informational nugget was sent to me by Ben Shapiro, who represents the Daily Wire, and since this is one of the most topical news events, it should be published on BCN.

The author of this post is Emily Zanotti.

    The Democrats' effort to forestall the Senate half of the impeachment process may have backfired, according to reports from outlets in Washington, D.C. With the extra time, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has reportedly whipped enough votes to block Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D-NY) bid to force witness testimony in the Senate impeachment trial.

    The Hill reports Tuesday that McConnell is confident that he has at least 51 votes - a simple majority - against allowing witnesses to give testimony in front of the Senate, blocking a Democratic effort to plug holes in their case for impeaching President Donald Trump, something Democrats in the House had been pushing for with the help of Senate Democratic leadership.

    It seems the House Democrats' decision to withhold the articles of impeachment from the Senate until McConnell agreed to a trial that involves witnesses worked against them, giving McConnell time to convince even moderate Republicans that a Senate trial should operate according to the rules crafted by Schumer and others back in 1998, when then-President Bill Clinton was on trial.

    "Two key moderate senators, Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), on Monday evening backed McConnell's position that the Senate should follow the precedent of the 1999 Clinton impeachment trial and defer until later in the process the question of calling additional witnesses," the Hill reported Tuesday.

    Collins told reporters that she supports using the 1998 rules, specifically, adding that she felt witnesses should only be allowed if, after both the House Democrats and the White House present their opening arguments, that specific questions remain.

    In a statement, Collin's noted that the bipartisan Senate agreement, inked during the Clinton trial, worked well and there seems to be no reason to improve upon the system: "The process moved to a period during which the Senate debated and voted that three witnesses should be deposed. I believe that this process - the Clinton approach - worked well."

    Murkowski attacked the House specifically, questioning why Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) had yet to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate, suggesting that she can't determine whether witnesses are needed until she has a full accounting from Pelosi's caucus.

    "We don't have anything to get to? So do you have any interesting news for me on that? Like when we might be able to get articles?" Murkowski told reporters Monday. "I don't think there is any decision on [accepting testimony from former national security advisor John] Bolton because we don't have articles."

    Democrats have pushed for witnesses after polling revealed independents aren't convinced the Democrats' case against the President is airtight. Even such mainstream media outlets as the New York Times complained that Democrats failed to prove, conclusively, that Trump issued a quid-pro-quo to Ukrainian officials, withholding foreign aid until the Ukrainians agreed to launch an investigation into whether former Vice President Joe Biden abused his power when he directed Ukrainian prosecutors away from an oil and gas company that employed his son, Hunter.

    McConnell has been adamant about using the 1999 rules - a proposition he reiterated in interviews last week.

    "The Senate does not bob along on the current of every news cycle," McConnell said in an address on the Senate floor. "In 1999, every single U.S. senator agreed to establish basic parameters for the start of the trial up front and be reserved mid-trial questions such as witnesses until later. The vote was 100-0."

    Pelosi has not indicated when she plans to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate, and House Democrats are now, it seems, suggesting that additional articles could be added to the case stemming from the White House's decision to launch a strike, killing Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Iraq.


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