Reports out of DC, on the heels of the selective leaking of John Bolton’s new book, is that Republican Senators Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine are likely to go south on the GOP trial process and vote to bring in witnesses.
If that happens the trial won’t be over by late this week/early next week. It could go on for weeks. If the duo votes against the president’s trial agenda the Dems would still need two more votes to win on the subject. They are targeting GOP Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.
The pressure to vote for witnesses was ratcheted up over the weekend with leaks from John Bolton’s new book that claim that the president directly told Bolton that the delay in military aid to Ukraine was tied to Biden.
Bolton is using the same team and strategy as has James Comey and the leak was coordinated to coincide with the impeachment trial, a vote on witnesses and, most importantly to Bolton, the availability to preorder his book online.
But bringing on witnesses is a two-edged sword for the Dems. Yes, the Dems may get Bolton. But the GOP could call Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, Adam Schiff, and Eric Ciaramella. As spiritually satisfying at it would be to watch Jay Sekulow munch on their still warm legal carcasses for lunch, the sooner this charade is over is the sooner the president can get back to undistracted work and the Congress can get back to whatever it does on a daily basis aside from fundraisers and hitting on lobbyists.
Bolton’s move can not only be seen as revenge for being fired by Trump, but as another chapter in the intramural GOP fight over a Cold War national security stance or the America First approach of the president.
If Collins and Murkowski vote for witnesses it is likely to throw some meat to their moderate supporters. Alexander is a lame duck and can vote the way he chooses without electoral repercussions.
Though if he desires an appointment in a second Trump administration this would not be the way to get it. And then there’s Mittens.
This would be a way for him to play to the press and shiv Trump at the same time. Given Romney’s notorious sanctimony and ego, it may be a temptation he is unable to resist.