As the Senate prepares to vote this week on whether to subpoena new witnesses or documents in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, Mitt Romney and other senators are adding to speculation that the vote might have a chance.
The Republican lawmaker from Utah made the following comment to reporters on Monday:
‘It’s increasingly likely that other Republicans will join those of us who think we should hear from John Bolton. I’ve spoken with others who’ve opined upon this as well.’
Romney also said that revelations from Bolton’s forthcoming book make it “increasingly apparent” that it would be important to hear from Trump’s former national security adviser, according to an NBC News report.
Related: Bolton’s book claims Trump said Ukraine aid was dependent on Biden probe: report
Romney and three other Republican senators — Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee — have been getting attention because they’re viewed as the most likely to vote in favor of having witnesses.
Romney said on Jan. 13 that he’d like to hear from Bolton and that he probably would be voting in favor of hearing from witnesses after the trial’s arguments. There would be a 51-49 vote in favor of calling witnesses if the four GOP lawmakers back that approach and all 47 senators who caucus with the Democrats also support it.
See: What the Republican senators considered the most moderate are saying about calling witnesses
And read: House manager Lofgren not sure whether Senate will allow witnesses in impeachment trial
Meanwhile, Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma did not voice support for calling witnesses, but instead proposed that all 100 senators should get to see the manuscript for Bolton’s book, which is titled “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir” and due for release in March after it has go
“We should be able to get access to that manuscript,” Lankford said in a video posted late Monday on his Facebook page. The senator said the book is currently going through a declassification process. He also called on Bolton to speak up without waiting for a subpoena, saying he’s “never seen him be shy about anything ever.”
“My encouragement would be: If John Bolton’s got something to say, there’s plenty of microphones all over the country that he should step forward and start talking about it right now,” Lankford said.
One Trump ally, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, tweeted Tuesday that he “totally” supports Lankford’s proposal that “the Bolton manuscript be made available to the Senate, if possible, in a classified setting.” One possible classified setting is the Senate’s Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF.
But Senate Minority Leader Chuck, the New York Democrat, criticised the idea. “What an absurd proposal,” Schumer said, “It’s a book. There’s no need for it to be read in the SCIF unless you want to hide something.”
On Monday, Graham tweeted that if the Senate decides to call Democratic witnesses, then at minimum the chamber should allow Trump’s team to call witnesses. The president’s supporters have suggested that Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, should testify. The Democrats’ push to remove Trump from office centers on his pressure on Ukraine’s president to announce investigations into Biden and his son, as well as into an unsubstantiated theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
Collins tweeted Monday that she’s always said that she was likely to vote to call witnesses, and the reports about Bolton’s book “strengthen the case for witnesses and have prompted a number of conversations among my colleagues.” Murkowski tweeted that she has stated before that she’s “curious” to hear from Bolton and the “time is almost here” to decided on witnesses, while Alexander told reporters that he would decide on witnesses after opening arguments are over and after senators have 16 hours to ask questions.
Sen. Angus King, the Maine independent who votes with Democrats, told NPR that his “bold prediction” is that “five or 10” Republicans would vote for witnesses. And Schumer said Monday that Senate Republicans are “going to be part of the coverup” if they don’t vote in favor of calling witnesses.
On the other hand, Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler of Georgia criticized Romney in a tweet on Monday, saying he “wants to appease the left by calling witnesses.”
Even if the Senate votes for witnesses and documents, that’s widely expected only to prolong the trial, rather than lead to Trump’s ouster. That helps explain why the stock market DJIA, +0.76% SPX, +1.00% hasn’t reacted much to impeachment-related developments. A two-thirds majority of the Senate — or 67 senators — must vote to convict the president to remove him from office.
Opinion: For the stock market, impeachment is just a sideshow
And read: Why investors are so calm about impeachment — and what it would take for that to change