Updated Jan 30, 2020

Republicans increasingly confident they'll sink witness vote

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walks through the Capitol Building. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

As the Senate prepares for another long day of Q&A, Republicans seem increasingly confident that at least 51 senators will vote Friday to prevent bringing additional witnesses into President Trump’s impeachment trial.

The bottom line: The whip count is still fluid, but GOP senators are far more optimistic after yesterday's eight-hour session than they were following their closed-door meeting on Tuesday.

What we're hearing: The Tuesday night meeting was strategically timed — and played exactly the role that Republican leaders had hoped it would.

  • Sources familiar with the meeting tell Axios that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told his conference that they did not yet have the votes to block witnesses, knowing that the news would likely leak to the media and alarm some senators who dread both a prolonged impeachment trial and Trump's Twitter wrath.
  • McConnell and Majority Whip John Thune knew that while it was true that several GOP senators had yet to make clear what their position was, they were confident they could still reach the magic number of 51 no-votes by the end of the week.
  • The sources say the leaders thought addressing the conference in a secretive setting would dial up the pressure for them to commit to sink the vote, and according to my conversations with senators the next day, the strategy appeared to work.

What Republicans are saying [Corrected]:

Worth noting: Senators face another eight hours on the Senate floor this afternoon, and there's always a chance that the arguments made by Trump's defense team or House prosecutors could sway key senators in a different direction.

  • But as of now, it appears that Republicans are hopeful the Senate will deliver a final judgment on Trump by the end of the week.

Go deeper

Trump headed for fast acquittal

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) walks through the Capitol. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump is poised to win his long-expected acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial as soon as tonight, after Sen. Lamar Alexander's dramatic 11th-hour announcement that he'll vote against calling new witnesses.

The state of play: The big question is no longer whether the Senate will sink this afternoon's witness vote, but rather how long it will take to deliver a final verdict on Trump after the vote fails.

The GOP senators signaling support for witnesses following Bolton report

From left: Sen. Susan Collins, former national security adviser John Bolton, Sen. Mitt Romney. Photos: Getty Images

At least three Republican senators are signaling support for calling John Bolton as a witness in President Trump's Senate impeachment trial, following reports that the former national security adviser's forthcoming book includes allegations that Trump said he conditioned aid to Ukraine on the nation investigating his political rivals.

The state of play: The revelations from Bolton's book could be enough to sway the four Republican senators needed to vote for witness testimony in the trial, GOP sources told Axios on Monday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Jan 30, 2020

Key senator commits to sinking witness vote

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) speaks with reporters as he leaves the Capitol. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The Senate is on track to swiftly acquit President Trump after Sen. Lamar Alexander announced Thursday night that he will vote against calling for additional witnesses.

Why it matters: Alexander's vote is crucial to whether the impeachment trial extends beyond this weekend, and his decision to stick with his party all but guarantees that Friday's witness vote will fail.