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Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Senators will almost certainly get to vote on whether or not to call impeachment witnesses. The resolution laying out the rules of the trial, which will be presented Tuesday, is expected to mandate that senators can take up-or-down votes on calling for witnesses and documents.

Yes, but: Those votes won't come until the House impeachment managers and President Trump's defense team deliver their opening arguments and field Senators' questions.

  • Some moderate Senate Republicans have pushed for this precise language, including Sen. Susan Collins, who faces a tough re-election. The language is "critical" for her, a source familiar with Collins' thinking told Axios.

What to watch: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is also expected to use the vote on the resolution to push Democrats' messaging, with an eye trained on weakening the GOP majority in the Senate and clawing back the more vulnerable seats in November.

  • A Democratic leadership aide told Alayna that they will force votes on subpoenaing key witnesses such as Trump's former national security advisor John Bolton, acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Mulvaney's senior advisor Robert Blair, and top White House budget official Michael Duffey, as well as relevant documents.
  • This has concerned some vulnerable Senate Republicans. "The Democratic amendments that will be offered in the beginning will be designed to screw us," a Republican Senate aide told Axios. "Like, 'How can we cut these to look like an ad?'"

"Democrats are going to try and amend these things until the cows come home, but remember, senators can't talk [during the trial]," a GOP leadership aide said. "So there won't be a clip of Susan Collins voting no on this."

  • Reality check: Although senators are required to remain silent during the trial, all votes will be recorded.
  • "This is not the political silver bullet that Democrats think it will be," the aide added. "Remember that every time Schumer offers up something to tweak our organizing resolution, it's an implicit way of saying that the House investigation came up short."

Meanwhile, a key strategy within the Trump team's defense mechanism is the notion that the articles themselves are not criminal, and therefore are not impeachable offenses, even if proven.

  • In turn, they'll claim this is why the debate over witnesses is bogus.
  • "If a person is indicted on something that is not a crime, you don't call the witnesses," Alan Dershowitz, a member of Trump's defense team, said earlier today on CNN's "State of the Union."
  • Expect to hear this line again.

Go deeper: Inside Trump's strategy for blocking impeachment witnesses

Go deeper

Updated 38 mins ago - Health

California surpasses 50,000 COVID-19 deaths

A man prepares a funeral arrangement in in Los Angeles, California, Feb. 12. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

California's death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 50,000 on Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: It's the first state to record more than 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus.

2 hours ago - Technology

Facebook bans Myanmar military

A protester holds a placard with a three-finger salute in front of a military tank parked aside the street in front of the Central Bank building during a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo by Aung Kyaw Htet/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook said on Wednesday it would ban the rest of the Myanmar military from its platform.

The big picture: It comes some three weeks after the military overthrew the civilian government in a coup and detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi, causing massive protests to erupt throughout the country. Military leaders have been using internet blackouts to try to maintain power in light of the coup.

It's harder to fill the Cabinet

Data: Chamberlain, 2020, "United States of America Cabinet Appointments Dataset" Chart: Will Chase/Axios

It's harder now for presidents to win Senate confirmation for their Cabinet picks, an Axios data analysis of votes for and against nominees found.

Why it matters: It's not just Neera Tanden. The trend is a product of growing polarization, rougher political discourse and slimming Senate majorities, experts say. It means some of the nation's most vital federal agencies go without a leader and the legislative authority that comes with one.

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