The White House expects Republican defections by calling witnesses on trial for political trial in the Senate

Washington The White House is preparing for some Republican senators to join the Democrats in the vote to call witnesses in the impeachment trial of President Trump, which could begin in the next few days.

Senior White House officials tell CBS News that they increasingly believe that at least four Republicans, and probably more, will vote to call witnesses. In addition to Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah and possibly Cory Gardner of Colorado, the White House also sees Rand Paul of Kentucky as a “joker” and Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee as a ” institutionalist. ” “Who could vote to call witnesses, as one official said.

Last week, Collins said she was working with a “fairly small group” of Republican senators to allow for new testimonies, adding that her colleagues “should be completely open to call witnesses.” Romney has expressed interest in listening to a former national security advisor. John bolton, who said he would testify under a subpoena. Murkowski said last week that the Senate should proceed as it did during Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999.

Gardner and Alexander have said that the Senate trial should be fair and impartial. Paul has said The president should be able to call his own witnesses, including the whistleblower whose complaint about Ukraine provoked the investigation of political trial in the first place.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the question of whether to call new witnesses at the trial would be decided by the entire Senate once the trial begins. A simple majority of 51 votes will be needed to pass motions to call witnesses, which means that Democrats would have to convince four of the 53 Republicans in the Senate to vote with them to demand testimony.

The house is you are expected to vote this week on a resolution to appoint those in charge of political trial and transmit the two articles to the Senate, a necessary step before the trial can begin. Democrats had previously demanded that McConnell agree to allow witness testimony, including four administration officials, before transmitting the articles.

White House officials, who were not authorized to speak in public, reiterated the president’s intention to claim executive privilege if necessary to prevent Bolton from testifying. Trump told Fox News last week that he would probably do it to “protect the office.” While Bolton could testify about some events that would be beyond the reach of executive privilege, the White House would fight to prevent Bolton from discussing direct talks with the president.

A senior official said the White House dismissal team and the lawyer’s office do not expect a quick dismissal of impeachment articles in the Senate, despite the president’s tweet the weekend in which he said Republicans should Vote to discard items. Some Republican senators have submitted a proposal to change the rules of the Senate and simply discard the articles.

“Many believe that if the Senate gives credit to a trial based on lack of evidence, there is no crime, it reads the transcripts, the Deception of Accusation ‘without pressure’, instead of an absolute rejection, it gives the partisan Democrat credibility of the witch hunt that I don’t otherwise have. I agree! “the president tweeted Sunday.

White House officials said the optics of a vote to dismiss would be difficult for Republicans, but White House lawyers expect the issue of acquittal to arise immediately after opening arguments and periods for written questions. presented by senators.

The president has offered several opinions on how he would like a trial in the Senate to take place, while at the same time nodding and deferring to the Senate. He also said he would like to hear from the complainant, along with the president of the Intelligence Chamber Adam Schiff and Joe and Hunter Biden. However, motions to call them witnesses are unlikely to succeed, although Republicans have a majority in the upper house.

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