Senate leaders eye speedy impeachment trial, may not call witnesses

If the Democrat-led House of Representatives succeeds at impeaching President Donald Trump, it will lead to a trial in the Senate. As such, some are looking forward to potential testimony from high-profile figures like Hunter Biden who may be called as witnesses.

However, it’s starting to look like that may not happen, as senior Republicans have begun to reveal their expectations for the proceedings.

“Here’s what I want to avoid: this thing going on longer than it needs to,” Sen. Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told the Washington Examiner. “I want to end this.”

Minds made up

It appears that Graham is far from alone in those sentiments. Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso (R) appeared to be on the same page.

“At that point, I would expect that most members would be ready to vote and wouldn’t need more information,” he said, according to National Review. “Many people have their minds pretty well made up.”

Sen. John Thune (R-SD) concurred, remarking: “It becomes endless motions to call people, and I’m not sure what anybody gains from all that.”

If few or no witnesses are called, then the resolution of the matter could all come down to procedural rules. While Supreme Court Justice John Roberts would preside over a Senate trial,  senators have the power to overrule his decisions and make rulings on questions he does not address, and a simple majority vote is all that is necessary to do so.

Unlike in the context of normal Senate business, Vice President Mike Pence would not be called upon to cast a tie-breaking vote.

The GOP currently holds 53 seats in the upper chamber, but some of those occupying them are considered to have strained relations with President Trump. Those include Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Maine’s Susan Collins, as well as failed presidential candidate Mitt Romney of Utah.

Potential for conflict

Trump has said that he wants to be vindicated in a full Senate trial; therefore, a decision not to call witnesses could lead to dissension in the Republican ranks.

“President Trump’s allies will want to see witnesses called. How many, and which witnesses, will quickly become a dividing line,” said former Trump aide Jason Miller.

All of this is predicated on a successful impeachment vote in the House. While most observers believe that impeachment will indeed go forward, a growing number of moderate Democrats appear to be getting cold feet, Politico notes. Only time will tell what Trump’s eventual fate will be.

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