McConnell Admits He Lacks Votes to Block Witness Testimony

McConnell Admits He Lacks Votes to Block Witness Testimony January 30, 2020

John Bolton’s recent revelation that Trump told him personally that he wanted to block nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine to force them to investigate his Democratic rival Joe Biden has so thrown the GOP into turmoil that Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell now admits he doesn’t have the votes anymore to block witnesses from testifying.

Credit to Nick Youngson

In a closed-door meeting after closing remarks, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told colleagues he doesn’t have the votes to block witnesses, according to people familiar with his remarks who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe them. Just four GOP senators would have to join with Democrats to produce the majority needed to call witnesses — an outcome McConnell has sought to avoid since it could invite new controversy and draw out the divisive proceedings.

An initial vote to allow witnesses, expected Friday, does not ensure witnesses would actually be called, since the Senate would have to subsequently hold separate votes on summoning each individual witness. And Trump’s ultimate acquittal still remains all but assured, since a two-thirds vote in the GOP-run Senate would be required to remove him.

But the debate over witnesses has roiled the Senate since the emergence of revelations Sunday in an unpublished book manuscript written by former national security adviser John Bolton. In the book, Bolton recounts a conversation with Trump in which the president described wanting to withhold military assistance from Ukraine until Kyiv announced investigations into some of Trump’s political rivals.

Regardless of the ultimate outcome, witness testimony, especially from John Bolton, is important for several reasons. It helps change public opinion, which could affect the election. Remember how close the 2016 election was, with only a few thousand votes in key states determining the outcome. That’s the biggest reason why it really matters.

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