Looks like it might happen.
White House lawyers pleaded with senators Tuesday to acquit President Trump based on “the Constitution and your common sense,” concluding their defense even as Senate GOP leaders struggled to block demands for new witnesses that could throw the trial into turmoil.
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.
While everything is theory until it happens, and acquittal is still likely, it’s going to make it rather hard for the Republicans on the campaign trail to justify their vote if they get asked repeatedly how they could vote to let Trump off when they’ve had witnesses lined up to say “Yeah, he did it,” and, more importantly, it would completely freak out the White House and his toadies.
One could easily make the case that in the long run — that is, in November — it’s better that the Republicans get away with having this laughable show trial without witnesses and acquit Trump with a whoop and a “whew, we got away with it.” The Democrats will have ready-made TV ads to run against the Republicans who, in spite of overwhelming evidence, still cravenly let him get away with it. I would hope that’s the case. But the electorate has the long-term memory of a goldfish, and by the time we get to October and the run-up to the election, the impeachment trial will be a distant memory to most of America. So expecting them to hold Trump accountable for what happened in the summer of 2019 in the fall of 2020 is a big ask.
And then there’s the small matter of justice. But this is politics, so justice is the last thing we’re supposed to be concerned with. Still, it would be nice if we were to at least go through the motions.