A key Republican senator announced late Thursday he will vote against calling witnesses at President Trump’s impeachment trial, dealing a devastating blow to Democratic hopes of fresh evidence and paving the way for the commander-in-chief to be acquitted of all charges by this week’s end.
Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, who was among a handful of GOP moderates under pressure to vote for more evidence, said after the trial’s second and final question-and-answer session that he had heard enough and did not see a need to subpoena John Bolton or any other outstanding witnesses.
“There is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven and that does not meet the U.S. Constitution’s high bar for an impeachable offense,” Alexander, who’s retiring at the end of this term, said in a statement.
Alexander’s announcement all but put the final nail in the coffin of the Democratic quest for subpoenas of witnesses and records withheld by the Trump administration from House impeachment investigators as part of the president’s sweeping stonewalling campaign.
The Senate is expected to take a critical vote Friday afternoon on whether to consider witnesses or move straight to a vote on removing Trump from office over his attempts to pressure Ukraine for investigations of Joe Biden and other Democratic rivals.
Fifty-one senators must vote in the affirmative to leave the door open for more evidence, meaning at least four Republicans need to break ranks because of the chamber’s 53-47 split.
With Alexander marked down as a no, the chances of Democrats succeeding in their hunt for new witnesses appeared extremely slim.