Moderate Republicans break with Democrats’ hopes, vow to vote ‘no’ on witnesses

A primary subplot of the ongoing Senate impeachment trial has been the demand from Democrats for additional witnesses to testify. Given that Republicans control the chamber by a margin of 53–47, the Dems needed at least four members of the GOP to cross the aisle and support the motion to issue subpoenas for more witnesses.

Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander (TN) — who is set to retire and isn’t particularly fond of President Donald Trump — was one such potential crossover vote for witnesses, but he dashed the hopes of Democrats on Thursday night when he reversed course, announcing that he would oppose the call for more witness testimony, Fox News reported. And he wasn’t the only one.

Democrats, along with their allies in the liberal media, focused an inordinate amount of attention on the four senators they viewed as the most likely to flip to their side and support the call for more witnesses: Sens. Alexander, Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and Mitt Romney (UT).

Both Collins and Romney went on the record as being in support of the motion for witnesses days ago, but the stance of Alexander and Murkowski remained unknown until late this week.

Alexander says no on witnesses

Sen. Alexander issued a statement Thursday night — also shared in a lengthy Twitter thread — that outlined his thoughts on the case presented by House managers and why he would vote “no” on the question of additional witnesses.

He actually agreed that President Trump had acted in an “inappropriate” manner with his July 2019 phone call to the Ukrainian president, but stopped short of agreeing that it was an impeachable offense. He also made it clear that he takes great issue with the partisan manner in which House Democrats have handled the impeachment effort from the very start.

“The framers believed that there should never, ever be a partisan impeachment. That is why the Constitution requires a [two-thirds] vote of the Senate for conviction. Yet not one House Republican voted for these articles,” Alexander said.

He went on: “If this shallow, hurried and wholly partisan impeachment were to succeed, it would rip the country apart, pouring gasoline on the fire of cultural divisions that already exist. It would create the weapon of perpetual impeachment to be used against future presidents whenever the House of Representatives is of a different political party.”

Murkowski follows suit

Prospects for additional witnesses appeared bleak following Alexander’s statement, but they were effectively killed entirely — barring something completely unexpected — when Murkowski announced Friday morning that she, too, would be voting “no” on whether to call for more witness testimony.

In a five-tweet thread, Murkowski called out the “rushed and flawed” manner in which House Democrats handled the impeachment process and, after much consideration, ultimately determined that it was not the job of the Senate to “cure the shortcomings” of what the House managers had presented.

She also took issue with the “partisan nature” of the process, lamenting that some of her Senate colleagues had worked to “further politicize the process.” She went on:

I will not stand for nor support that effort. We have already degraded our institution for partisan political benefit, and I will not enable those who wish to pull down another. We are sadly at a low point of division in this country.

It was always known that President Trump would likely be acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate, with the only real hope for Democrats being the potential that new witnesses would expose truly damning information that would change everything. But with the “no” votes from Alexander and Murkowski, that hope is now dead and buried.

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