Several Republican senators on Wednesday claimed the Senate may vote to end the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump by the end of the week after securing enough votes from key swing-vote senators.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told Fox News that “the president will be acquitted, and I think it will be this week, but you’ve unleashed the forces of partisan hell on future presidents if we legitimize this.”
“We’re going to get it done by Friday, hopefully,” Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) told The Hill following a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday before the start of the impeachment trial.
Rounds also told the same publication that they would be able to bypass calling witnesses. “I think we’ll be OK,” he said.
“If I had to guess, no witnesses,” Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) said. “We’ll be in a place where I think everyone is going to have their mind made up and I believe that we’ll be able to move to a verdict, and the witness question will be clear at that point,” Braun added.
McConnell has not publicly said if he officially has 51 votes to avoid calling new witnesses.
But Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) said in a press conference on Wednesday after the first break in the trial that “it’s obvious we don’t have the votes yet.”
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), meanwhile, indicated that he will not support voting for witnesses. Gardner, ahead of the trial, was viewed as a possible GOP senator who would vote to call more witnesses, as Democrats have proposed.
“I do not believe we need to hear from an 18th witness,” Gardner told Colorado Politics. “I have approached every aspect of this grave constitutional duty with the respect and attention required by law, and have reached this decision after carefully weighing the House managers and defense arguments and closely reviewing the evidence from the House, which included well over 100 hours of testimony from 17 witnesses.”
Democrats have said they need four Republicans to force votes on additional witnesses.
Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) have been floated as possible swing voters in favor of witnesses. Romney has said that he wants former national security adviser John Bolton to testify after the New York Times published details of his forthcoming book, alleging that the president told him about withholding aid to Ukraine in exchange for investigations into political opponents. Trump has strongly denied the latest claim on Twitter.
Alexander told reporters Monday he would decide on witnesses after the question-and-answer period on Thursday.
“After we’ve heard all the arguments, after we’ve heard the questions and the answers to the questions, after we’ve studied the record, then we’ll have that vote. And at that time I will make a decision about whether we need additional evidence,” Alexander said.
Murkowski, meanwhile, hasn’t indicated how she would vote on witnesses, while Collins has suggested she would like to hear what Bolton has to say.