News & Politics

Impeachment End Game in Sight as GOP Senators Plan for Acquittal after Witness Vote

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks with the media after the Senate Policy Luncheon in Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Senate GOP leaders are mulling a quick end to the impeachment trial if the vote to call witnesses fails.

Politico is reporting that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may use some procedural moves to bring an end to debate and vote for Trump’s acquittal. If, as expected, the vote to call witnesses fails and Democrats are unable to introduce more evidence or depose more witnesses, the vote to acquit could come as early as Friday, says Senator John Barrasso.

“The question is going to come to ‘Have you heard enough to make a decision or do you want witnesses?’ If people say, ‘We’re ready to vote,’ we’re going to vote right then,” said Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.), the number three Senate Republican.

Barrasso suggested that an acquittal vote could take place as soon as Friday — if senators don’t agree to subpoena additional witnesses or documentary evidence. Under the organizing resolution that controls the proceedings, Democrats could offer additional motions if the Senate votes down deposing additional witnesses — including former national security adviser John Bolton — but Republicans could then move to shut down debate and call for an up-or-down vote on acquittal.

“We would,” said Sen. Joni Ernst (Iowa) of the quick acquittal vote. “If it fails, no more witnesses, no more documents. Then we would, I would think … I would imagine that then we would roll into that.”

Any move by the Democrats to stall will be seen as a partisan attempt to damage the president. Democrats would do well to end this fiasco and go on to the next investigation of the Trump presidency.

For their part, Senate Democrats are already trying to figure out how to combat McConnell if the GOP pursues this strategy.

“So the rules would have the vote on the articles come up immediately after a failed vote on witnesses. I think we are exploring what our options would be if we lost that witness vote,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). “McConnell I would imagine would go straight [to the acquittal vote]. The rules don’t provide for anything.”

Following the conclusion of Trump’s lawyer’s presentation, there are supposed to be 16 hours of questions to the House managers. It’s expected that this sideshow will be highly scripted by both sides — about as spontaneous as a reality show. After that, McConnell should move for a vote. Democrats wouldn’t be able to stop it.

There may be a few roadblocks put in McConnell’s way. The centrist Republicans might object to such a hasty end to the trial that deviates from the Clinton impeachment model. Other Senators may want to use the attention drawn to the trial to make a statement of some kind.

Impeachment is the most boring show in Washington. Ending it would be in everyone’s interest.