Ted Cruz Says “The Witness Vote Could Easily be Close” as McConnell Says He Doesn’t Have the Votes to Block Yet

Ted Cruz said “the witness vote could easily be close” as Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell warned GOP Senators he does not currently have the votes needed to block witnesses.

Democrats need 4 Republicans to side with them in order to prevail in calling witnesses.

So far the biggest Republican ally of Democrats appears to be Mitt Romney, who is very publicly calling for John Bolton’s testimony.

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Senator Susan Collins has also issued a statement that indicates she’s likely to support witnesses.

Two big wild cards are Senators Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Lamar Alexander (Tennessee.)

Now, all eyes are on Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., as he could be a pivotal vote on whether there are witnesses in President Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial.

Per the NY Times, Republican senators huddled privately in the Capitol on Tuesday afternoon to determine whether to call witnesses in President Trump’s impeachment trial — a step that most of them hope to avoid — but reached no consensus on how to proceed.

As soon as Mr. Trump’s legal team finished its oral arguments against removing him from office, Republicans raced to a room near the Senate floor to decide whether to support the move, which could prolong the trial and muddle what until recently had seemed to be a smooth march to a speedy acquittal of the president.

Democrats have long demanded that witnesses be called, but until this week, all but a few Republicans had been opposed, calling it unnecessary. Revelations from a coming book by the president’s former national security adviser, John R. Bolton, reinvigorated the debate among Republicans about whether they needed to relent.

“It was a serious family discussion,” Senator Kevin Cramer, Republican of North Dakota, said as he emerged from Tuesday’s session. “Some people are sincerely exploring all the avenues because they are still uncommitted.”

Senator Mitt Romney of Utah is the only Republican to have publicly called for witnesses and has said he wants to hear from Mr. Bolton. Senator Susan Collins of Maine has also said she would most likely vote for witnesses.

Two other Republicans, Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, have expressed openness to the idea, but both were noncommittal after reports about Mr. Bolton’s manuscript, in which he said that Mr. Trump refused to release congressionally allocated military aid to Ukraine until the country furnished information about his political rivals.

To prevail in a vote to call witnesses, now expected on Friday, Democrats would need four Republicans to join them.

“The witness vote could easily be close,” said Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, adding that the private discussion among his colleagues on Tuesday was “vigorous.”

Senator Mike Braun, Republican of Indiana, said the group had broken up with no agreement on what to do.