News & Politics

Key GOP Senator Announces Impeachment Witness Vote. Game Over?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks back to the Senate chamber after a break in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander announced at the conclusion of the Senate impeachment trial Q & A period that he will vote no Friday on calling additional impeachment witnesses, which would extend the proceedings past the weekend and beyond.

The retiring Tennesee senator, who has nothing to gain (or lose) politically with his vote, announced on Twitter that “there is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven and that does not meet the U.S. Constitution’s high bar for an impeachable offense.”

Alexander’s decision all but guarantees that the impeachment trial will conclude this weekend with a vote to acquit the president because, despite the defection of Sen. Susan Collins, who announced Thursday night that she will vote to call more witnesses, Republicans will likely have enough votes to block the motion. Republican Sens. Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski have yet to announce how they will vote, but it is thought their votes will not be needed.

Democrats had hoped to continue to drag their partisan show-trial out as long as possible by calling in additional witnesses, while Republicans were threatening to call witnesses of their own, including Joe and Hunter Biden. Now, it all appears to have come to naught.

Sen. Ted Cruz told Fox News after the Senate adjourned for the night that the “chances of additional witnesses have plummeted…. we are likely to move on Saturday to final judgment after which the president will be acquitted. ”

[Update]: A note on Senate rules: With the “World’s Greatest Deliberative Body” split 53-45 in favor of Republicans, three GOP defections would result in a tie — four would allow the Democrats to prevail. With Alexander out of play, a tie seems unlikely unless the Dems can secure another defection before the vote. What happens if there’s a tie? No one really knows.

“Is it possible we’ll have a 50-50 vote? Of course,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said last week. “What’ll happen after that, I don’t think anyone knows.”

Normally when there’s a tie, the vice president casts the deciding vote, but with Chief Justice John Roberts prevailing over the impeachment trial, Democrats have been making the case that he should cast the deciding vote. Would he want to insert himself into such a high-profile vote? We would hope not, but we all remembered what happened with the Obamacare SCOTUS decision. John “Really, It’s a Tax!” Roberts ensured that his legacy would be enabling government-run healthcare. Stay tuned.

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