Jan 26, 2020

Trump approaches speedy acquittal

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

Officials in both parties tell Axios that — barring surprise new information — President Trump is on a glide path to swift acquittal at his Senate impeachment trial, despite a blizzard of evidence bolstering Democrats' accusations.

Why it matters: Trump has a decent chance of avoiding witnesses and of losing zero Republican votes on conviction. When the news of Trump's Ukraine scandal broke, few thought every single Republican in the House and Senate would have his back. Bill Clinton pined for such unity. 

  • A source close to House Democrats sounded morose after Trump's defense team made its opening arguments yesterday: "I think our team feels like we did everything possible and are going to lose anyway."
  • "It feels like maybe we’ll still get a witness, but more likely not, and even if we do it won’t matter," the source added.
  • "The GOP gamble is always that most voters don’t care about process ... Up to us to make them pay for this."

Yes, but: Don't rule out the possibility that the necessary four Senate Republicans will vote to allow witnesses.

  • But the Trump team seems confident they won’t.

Senate sources say that about the only way the Trump team could mess things up now is to be overly shrill and overplay their hands when they continue their case on Monday,.

  • The biggest way the Trump lawyers could do that is by delving deeply into the Bidens' role in Ukraine.
  • People in both parties echoed an observation of CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin during yesterday's coverage: "If you're winning, shut up. That's, I think, ... the guiding principle of what they're doing."
  • Yesterday's presentation was also short because Trump didn’t want his lawyers wasting time on Saturday, which he tweeted "is called Death Valley in T.V."

Go deeper: Impeachment trial draws shrugs — by design

Go deeper

The daily highlights from Trump's Senate impeachment trial

Photo: Getty Images

The Senate impeachment trial of President Trump is set to wrap up on Wednesday with a final on whether or not to remove him from office.

The big picture: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell got the speedy, no-witness trial he wanted. Republicans officially have the votes to acquit Trump, according to a Politico analysis of public statements.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Feb 5, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump's defense team shifts from complacency to urgency

White House counsel Pat Cipollone arrives for the Senate impeachment trial. Photo: Olivier Doulery/AFP via Getty Images

Just days ago, Republicans were optimistic President Trump’s defense team could cruise to an acquittal by the end of this week, but many believe his lawyers now face a steep climb to stop a vote to allow new witnesses and drag out the impeachment proceedings.

The bottom line: Allegations in excerpts of former national security advisor John Bolton's forthcoming book — leaked to the New York Times for a story published Sunday night — have shifted the dynamic of the impeachment trial and threaten to upend Republicans' plans.

Go deeperArrowJan 28, 2020

Republicans brace for domino effect on witnesses

Photo: Getty Images

If at least four Senate Republicans decide to vote with Democrats this week to subpoena witnesses and documents in President Trump's impeachment trial, Hill Republicans fear a potential domino effect, with additional GOP senators — especially those up for reelection in November — falling.

What they're saying: “You don’t want to be one of the first four. But no one gives a f*** about the fifth vote,” a GOP senate aide told Axios. “Especially for all of the 2020-ers. If it turns into a free vote, why wouldn’t you vote for witnesses?”

Go deeperArrowJan 28, 2020