As the House Judiciary Committee prepares for its mark-up session for two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, Senate Republicans have indicated that they might decline their right to call any witnesses during a trial in the upper chamber.
While Trump has indicated that he would like to see former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden, and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) testify, some Republican senators said they would prefer a speedy trial.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D) told reporters he thinks that Republicans, as well as Democrats, do not want to deal with a drawn-out fight over picking witnesses.
“I think a protracted period where there are motions to call witnesses offered by both sides and lots of votes … is not going to be terribly popular with either side. I think there’s going to be a desire to wrap this up in at least somewhat of a timely way. There’s going to be a lot of people who I think are going to say, ‘I don’t really want to drag this on.”
“I hope so. That’s what I like. I want to end this thing as quickly as possible.”
In order to call a witness, Republicans would need the support of 51 senators. While Republicans hold a 53-47 seat majority, some Republican senators signaled they were nervous about “bidding war” over calling witnesses.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) questioned if any new witnesses would introduce evidence that would sway senators.
“When the outcome is almost certain, once both sides have presented their case, I think it would be legitimate to ask is there any more that we need to hear that is going to change the result, and if not how much more time is reasonable to spend on this? Surely no one wants to get into a bidding war of upping the ante on who can call what witnesses, just for the sake of calling witnesses.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in his weekly press conference that he sees two ways the Senate trial can go.
“It could go down the path of calling witnesses and basically having another trial or it could decide, and again 51 members could make that decision, that they have heard enough and believe they know what would happen and could move to vote on the two articles of impeachment sent over to us by the House. Those are the options. No decisions have been made yet.”
After House Democrats introduced their articles of impeachment, the White House said that Trump plans to address the “false charges” during the Senate trial.