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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

Mayors press Biden to adopt progressive immigration agenda

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A coalition of nearly 200 mayors and county executives is challenging Joe Biden and the incoming Congress to adopt a progressive immigration agenda that would give everyone a pathway to citizenship.

Why it matters: The group's goals, set out in a white paper released today, seem to fall slightly to the left of what the president-elect plans to propose on Inauguration Day — though not far — and come at a time of intense national polarization over immigration.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
19 mins ago - Health

Demand for coronavirus vaccines is outstripping supply

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Now that nearly half of the U.S. population could be eligible for coronavirus vaccines, America is facing the problem experts thought we’d have all along: demand for the vaccine is outstripping supply.

Why it matters: The Trump administration’s call for states to open up vaccine access to all Americans 65 and older and adults with pre-existing conditions may have helped massage out some bottlenecks in the distribution process, but it’s also led to a different kind of chaos.

Woman who allegedly stole laptop from Pelosi's office to sell to Russia is arrested

Photo: FBI

A woman accused of breaching the Capitol and planning to sell to Russia a laptop or hard drive she allegedly stole from Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office was arrested in Pennsylvania's Middle District Monday, the Department of Justice said.

Driving the news: Riley June Williams, 22, is charged with illegally entering the Capitol as well as violent entry and disorderly conduct. She has not been charged over the laptop allegation and the case remains under investigation, per the DOJ.

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