Alexander’s ‘No’ Almost Guarantees Witness-less Senate Trial

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 19: Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) speaks with reporters at the U.S. Capitol January 19, 2018 in Washington, DC. A continuing resolution to fund the government has passed the House of Representa... WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 19: Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) speaks with reporters at the U.S. Capitol January 19, 2018 in Washington, DC. A continuing resolution to fund the government has passed the House of Representatives but faces a stiff challenge in the Senate. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images) MORE LESS
|
January 30, 2020 11:26 p.m.
JOIN TPM FOR JUST $1

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN)’s announcement that he will not support additional witnesses or document subpoenas in the impeachment trial, almost guarantees that no witnesses will be called.

At best, Democrats can hope for a 50-50 tie when the Senate votes Friday on a resolution on whether to allow for the House or Trump’s team to request witness or document subpoenas.

There’s a chance that Chief Justice John Roberts — who is serving as the presiding officer, a role in other circumstances played by the Vice President — could cast a vote to break the tie. But there’s no requirement that he cast such a vote, and Roberts’ desire to appear above the political fray suggests he won’t.

There’s precedent in impeachments for the presiding chief justice for casting tie-breaking votes and for declining to break ties.

Without such a tiebreaker, the motion to open the door to witnesses will fail.

So far, the only other witness-curious Republican to announce her vote on Friday was Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who said she will support Friday’s witness motion. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) has also sent strong signals that he’ll support it, even though he has not yet issued his official position.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), the moderate whose vote Democrats will need just for a tie, said she will release a statement with her position on Friday morning.

Murkowski delaying her decision overnight puts Republicans — and Roberts — in a position of waiting to see if Roberts will break a tie, or if Alexander’s opposition to witnesses will make it less likely that she’ll support the measure.

Alexander and Murkwoski met in private at the last major break in Thursday’s impeachment proceedings.

Comments
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Senior Editor:
Special Projects Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Reporter:
Senior Newswriter:
Newswriters:
Editor at Large:
General Manager & General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Publishing Associate:
Front-End Developer:
Senior Designer: