Top GOP senators are predicting that the Senate impeachment trial could end in an acquittal vote as soon as Friday, with the only thing standing in their way being any procedural delay tactics Democrats employ after a vote on witnesses Friday that is expected to fail.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), the third highest ranking Senate Republican, previewed how Friday could go down in a scrum with reporters during a break in the question period Thursday.
Friday’s vote on witnesses — which would not be votes on individual witness subpoenas, but rather whether those subpoena motions can even be made in order — will be preceded by four hours of debate equally divided.
If that vote fails, it is unclear whether there would then be a dedicated time for closing arguments, as there was in the Clinton impeachment trial. The organizing resolution Senate Republicans approved at the beginning of the current proceedings did not guarantee one.
On Thursday, Barrasso said his caucus believed that the four hour witness debate could also serve as the closing arguments. He said that Democrats could, nonetheless, put forward a measure to establish a separate closing argument period after the witness vote fails. He also didn’t rule out a McConnell resolution that would set up the final stages, but Barrasso emphasized that such a resolution would not allow for “extended” closing arguments.
Barrasso promised that Republicans were prepared to stay in session for as long as it took to get past any other procedural hurdles Democrats threw up to delay getting to a final vote. He compared that scenario to the debate over the opening procedural resolution that lasted until 2 a.m. because of the 11 amendments Democrats put forward. During that debate, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) offered to let everyone go home and come back the next day to finish up the amendments — an offer Majority Mitch McConnell (R-KY) rejected.
“We’re not going to do that,” Barrasso said, of taking up a similar offer, if made, on Friday.