The Wall Street Journal has reported the changing mood among senators in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, saying Republican senators appear yielding to pressure to allow witnesses to testify in the trial.
The respected journal in an exclusive report on Tuesday said Trump’s pointsman in the Senate, Mitch McConnell who had vowed to follow White House script during the trial is now downbeat as he told a meeting of GOP senators that there aren’t enough votes to block impeachment witnesses.
The development has come despite the attempt by Trump lawyers to cast doubts on the importance and credibility of allegations by former national security adviser John Bolton about the president’s motives for freezing aid to Ukraine.
But at a meeting of all Republican senators late Tuesday, GOP leaders told their conference that they don’t currently have the votes to prevent witnesses from being called, people familiar with the matter said, WSJ reported.
Republicans had hoped to wrap up the trial with an acquittal of the president by this week, but Democrats have said Mr. Bolton should appear under oath to offer a firsthand account of the president’s motivations for freezing aid to Ukraine—a matter at the heart of the impeachment case.
“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said the vote total wasn’t where it needed to be on blocking witnesses or documents, these people said. He had a card with “yes,” “no,” and “maybes” marked on it, apparently a whip count, but he didn’t show it to senators.
“Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado, Martha McSally of Arizona and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who face competitive races in the fall, addressed their colleagues in the meeting, people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Gardner said a longer trial would lead to more Democratic attacks, according to a spokesman”.
Reports said latest opinion polls may also be adding to the pressure on Republican Senators to allow witnesses.
The latest Quinnipiac University national poll published Tuesday said 75 per cent of registered voters want witnesses to be allowed to testify in the impeachment trial.
“Support for witness testimony includes 49 percent of Republicans, 95 percent of Democrats, and 75 percent of independents,” the report said.
“There may be heated debate among lawmakers about whether witnesses should testify at the impeachment trial of President Trump, but it’s a different story outside the Beltway. Three-quarters of American voters say witnesses should be allowed to testify, and that includes nearly half of Republican voters,” said Quinnipiac University Poll Analyst Mary Snow.