McConnell has support needed to kill impeachment witness vote

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks to the chamber for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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UPDATED 6:30 PM PT — Thursday, January 30, 2020

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he is confident he will have the votes needed to stop Democrats from calling more impeachment witnesses. This came after McConnell said he was unsure if he would have the support needed to kill the vote earlier this week.

Democrats would need four Republicans to vote with them in order to call more witnesses for the trial.

“I hope that we have just four Republicans, all we need is four, who rise to the occasion and say we need to find out the truth,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland Michael Steele said McConnell spoke with senators, like Lisa Murkowski, who were considered potential swing votes in hopes of persuading them to vote in line with the party.

“There will be no more witnesses and there will be no new evidence that will be introduced because you’re not going to get the fourth senator,” said Steele. “That fourth senator is not going to land because Mitch McConnell has such a tight grip on this process.”

If the Senate kills the vote as expected, the upper chamber could move forward with a vote to formally acquit the president as early as Friday.

RELATED: Sen. McConnell Slams Democrats For ‘Celebrating’ Impeachment, Republicans Debate Possible Trial Testimonies

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Sen. Cruz: Hunter Biden would be most important witness

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, with Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., right, speaks to reporters at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, during a break in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

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UPDATED 10:05 AM PT — Tuesday, January 28, 2020

According to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Hunter Biden would be the most important witness in the impeachment trial. While speaking with reporters Monday, Cruz said House Democrats haven’t provided compelling evidence for the president’s impeachment.

The Texas lawmaker also said he thinks calling witnesses isn’t necessary, but if they are called then Hunter Biden would provide the most important testimony. He made the following comments regarding the topic:

“In my view, additional witnesses are not necessary. The House managers have presented their case. They haven’t come remotely close to meeting their burden of proof. Now that being said, if the Senate later this week when we vote on witnesses decides to go down to the road of additional witnesses, I think at a minimum the most important witness for the Senate to hear from is now Hunter Biden.”

Democrats would need at least four Republicans to vote in favor of calling witnesses in order for the motion to pass. That vote could come as early as Friday or Saturday.

RELATED: GOP senators consider calling Hunter Biden as witness

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Biden dismisses idea of ‘witness swap’ deal in impeachment trial

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event at the North Iowa Events Center, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, in Mason City, Iowa. (AP Photo/John Locher)

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UPDATED 7:21 AM PT — Thursday, January 23, 2020

2020 presidential hopeful Joe Biden said the idea for a “witness swap” in the impeachment trial is off the table. When asked by voters Wednesday if he would consider testifying in exchange for the testimony of other Trump officials, Biden dismissed the idea.

He stated his reasoning for denying testimony is based on the fact that the impeachment trial is “a constitutional issue.” The Democrat said he wants no part of what could be turned into a “political theater.”

The former vice president went on to defend the actions of his son Hunter by saying other than his appearance in Ukraine, he did nothing “inappropriate”‘ or “wrong.”

Other Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, have also ruled out the possibility after pushing for witnesses to testify in the Senate trial.

House managers are set to reconvene Thursday for another day of arguments in the impeachment trial.

RELATED: House prosecutors rehash old arguments on second day of Senate trial, cry corruption

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Pelosi’s problem: Dems’ own witness says Trump not truly impeached unless articles go to Senate

closeCongress leaves for Christmas break without sending articles of impeachment to the SenateVideo

Congress leaves for Christmas break without sending articles of impeachment to the Senate

Pelosi thanks Democrats for 'moral courage.' Fox News correspondent Todd Piro reports.

Consider it a twist on the old question about a tree falling in the forest with no one to hear it: If the House adopts articles of impeachment but never sends them to the Senate, is a president truly impeached?

A Harvard law professor, who also served as a Democrat-called impeachment witness, answered with a resounding “no” in a column that speaks to the deep dilemma House Speaker Nancy Pelosi faces as she sits on two articles of impeachment against President Trump.

MCCONNELL: 'IMPASSE' OVER TRUMP IMPEACHMENT TRIAL, AS DEMS DEPART FROM PRECEDENT

Pelosi, D-Calif., is apparently using the delay as leverage to extract favorable terms for a Senate trial. But Noah Feldman wrote for Bloomberg that an “indefinite delay” would pose a “serious problem”—as impeachment only technically happens when the articles are transmitted to the Senate.

“Both parts are necessary to make an impeachment under the Constitution: The House must actually send the articles and send managers to the Senate to prosecute the impeachment. And the Senate must actually hold a trial,” Feldman wrote.

“If the House does not communicate its impeachment to the Senate, it hasn’t actually impeached the president,” he continued. “If the articles are not transmitted, Trump could legitimately say he wasn’t truly impeached at all.”

Pelosi signaled late Wednesday after the House passed articles of impeachment—on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress—that she wanted reassurances that the Senate would hold a fair trial, likely involving certain Democrat-sought witnesses, before sending over the articles.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on the floor Thursday seemed baffled at Pelosi’s move to withhold the articles, arguing that the House speaker doesn’t have the leverage she thinks she does.

“Some House Democrats imply they are withholding the articles for some kind of leverage,” McConnell said. “I admit, I’m not sure what leverage there is in refraining from sending us something we do not want. Alas, if they can figure that out, they can explain.”

He added: “Following weeks of pronouncements about the urgency of the situation, urgent situation, the prosecutors appear to have developed cold feet. Democrat prosecution seems to have gotten cold feet and be unsure about whether they want to proceed to the trial. Like I said, a very unusual spectacle, and in my view, certainly not one that reflects well on the House.”

President Trump takes aim at House Speaker Pelosi for not sending articles of impeachment to the SenateVideo

“So, we’ll see whether House Democrats ever want to work up the courage to actually take their accusation to trial,” McConnell said.

Despite McConnell saying the Senate doesn’t actually “want” to receive the articles, President Trump has called for an immediate trial and is evidently looking for his day in court to be acquitted for the alleged crimes surrounding his efforts to pressure Ukraine to launch politically advantageous investigations. The request came after the administration had withheld millions in military aid to Ukraine, though Trump has denied any quid pro quo was at play.

“I got Impeached last night without one Republican vote being cast with the Do Nothing Dems on their continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in American history,” Trump tweeted Thursday. “Now the Do Nothing Party want to Do Nothing with the Articles & not deliver them to the Senate, but it’s the Senate’s call!”

Meanwhile, another Harvard law professor, Laurence Tribe, has defended Pelosi.

"Senate rules requiring the House to 'immediately' present its articles of impeachment to the Senate clearly violate the constitutional clause in Article I giving each house the sole power to make its own rules," Tribe tweeted on Wednesday.

"It’s up to the House when and how to prosecute its case in the Senate," he added, just hours before House Democrats voted to approve the two articles of impeachment.

Before Wednesday's vote, Tribe penned a Washington Post op-ed calling on the House not to let Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., hold a "Potemkin trial."

"This option needs to be taken seriously now that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has announced his intention to conduct not a real trial but a whitewash, letting the president and his legal team call the shots," Tribe wrote.

HARVARD LAW PROFESSOR BACKS PELOSI MOVE TO KEEP ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT FROM SENATE

Tribe's op-ed added that the House didn't need a constitutional provision allowing it to withhold the articles from the Senate.

Pelosi, for her part, made clear earlier this week that she's concerned with how McConnell would arrange a trial in the GOP-led Senate.

"Let me tell you what I don't consider a fair trial," she told reporters. "This is what I don't consider a fair trial — that Leader McConnell has stated that he's not an impartial juror, that he's going to take his cues, in quotes, from the White House, and he is working in total coordination with the White House counsel's office."

But with the trial schedule thrown into doubt as Congress breaks for the holidays absent an agreement, Feldman's op-ed suggests that time is not on Pelosi's side.

"[I]f the House never sends the articles, then Trump could say with strong justification that he was never actually impeached. And that’s probably not the message Congressional Democrats are hoping to send," he wrote.

Fox News’ Sam Dorman and Gregg Re contributed to this report.

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