The White House’s plans for a speedy impeachment trial were thrown into doubt Tuesday as new explosive allegations from ex-national security adviser John Bolton have cast a shadow of doubt over some weak-minded members of the GOP.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell admitted this means he doesn’t yet have enough votes to block the calling of impeachment witnesses.
GOP senators were all over the map on Tuesday as President Trump’s defense team called Bolton’s manuscript “inadmissible” and warned against opening the door to new wild-card information in the ongoing trial. Democrats have repeatedly called for Bolton to testify.
A source with knowledge of McConnell’s comments confirmed to Fox Business that the Kentucky Republican told people in a private meeting Tuesday that the GOP did not have the votes to block impeachment witnesses.
Later Tuesday night, a Senate leadership source told Fox News that Republicans were assessing the viability of two alternative options, in the event there is majority support for additional witnesses. “Plan B,” the source said, is to amend any resolution calling for a particular witness to also include a package of witnesses that wouldn’t win enough support of the Senate.
This could mean that if the Democrats seek to call Bolton, Republicans might seek to question Hunter Biden or Rep. Adam Schiff over his panel’s contacts with the whistleblower, something that Democrats would never agree to.
That proposal could afford moderate Republicans the political cover of voting in favor of witnesses, while ultimately rejecting a witness package.
The GOP’s hesitation comes after The New York Times reported Bolton’s manuscript included a claim that Trump explicitly linked a hold on military aid to Ukraine to an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden.
According to Bolton in his new book, Trump told him in August “that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens.”
Traitorous Sen. Mitt Romney subsequently ramped up his called for witnesses but Trump loyalists were quick to shut down the talk of prolonging the trial a minute longer than necessary.
“I’d like to hear from Mr. Bolton,” Romney said when asked if viewing the manuscript would satisfy him.
He added that he could not predict whether three other GOP senators would vote for witnesses and signaled Tuesday it’s still a volatile situation. “I don’t think they’re all settled as a group or as individuals as to exactly how they’re going to vote,” Romney said.
Sen. Rand Paul on Tuesday suggested that Bolton was simply a disgruntled fired employee with the motive of money.
“The Democrats have spent a lot of time imagining what the president’s motives are,” Paul said. “Someone ought to spend some time imagining what John Bolton’s motives are other than making millions of dollars to trash the president.”
Republican senators have bashed the House for not subpoenaing Bolton and other witnesses up front and said it’s not the Senate’s job to remedy an incomplete case.
“The witness vote I think could easily be close,” Sen. Ted Cruz said. “We just came from a conference in which there was vigorous discussion and debate on the question of whether additional witnesses are needed.”
While Graham would prefer to conclude the trial without witnesses, he said if the door was open to witnesses, there was “consensus” Republicans wanted more than just Bolton, but the Bidens, the whistleblower and more.
“If you call John Bolton, we’re calling everybody,” Graham said.