Lead House Impeachment Manager Adam Schiff claimed in closing arguments “CBS News reported last night that a Trump confidant said that GOP Senators were warned “vote against your president, the president, and your head will be on a pike.”
In making this provocative argument and quoting a report that has not been corroborated as fact, Schiff has now put off two of the key swing Senators he would need desperately to get on his side for Democrats to have any chances of getting witnesses and documents they covet.
Per Yahoo, after that remark, the generally respectful mood in the Senate immediately changed. Republicans across their side of the chamber groaned, gasped and said, “That’s not true.” One of those key moderate Republicans, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, looked directly at Schiff, shook her head and said, “Not true.”
“Not only have I never heard the ‘head on the pike’ line,” Collins said in a statement, “but also I know of no Republican senator who has been threatened in any way by anyone in the administration.”
It wasn’t immediately clear what impact, if any, Schiff’s comment would have on upcoming votes on witnesses and the ultimate question of whether Trump should be removed from office. Democrats need support from at least four Republicans to win a vote on calling witnesses, and Schiff’s arguments over three days were clearly aimed at persuadable GOP senators.
Hearing the Republican protests, and with an eye toward Collins, Schiff paused and said: “I hope it’s not true. I hope it’s not true.”
But Republicans were already put off.
“That’s when he lost me,” Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican moderate, said about Schiff’s remark, according to her spokeswoman. She denied having been told what the network reported about the White House. Schiff’s invocation of it, she added, ”was unnecessary.”
Collins, another moderate who is up for reelection this year, is one of the few Republican senators who has expressed an openness to calling witnesses in the impeachment trial.