Anybody surprised at this raise their hand….
The four Republican senators have been the crucial swing votes to help shape Trump’s trial, and they’ve been in constant communication for weeks. They banded together to devise holding the vote on witnesses in the first place, a deal that helped seal unanimous GOP support for the rules of the impeachment trial. And they were texting and calling each other with increasing regularity as Trump’s trial began in earnest.
But on the biggest question of the impeachment trial, the group was going their separate ways. And their split decision will ensure Trump gets his speedy acquittal without the threat of new testimony that could upend GOP plans.
Still, in her meeting with Alexander, Murkowski kept her decision a secret.
“No,” Alexander said when asked if Murkowski tipped her hand. “She didn’t.”
The fast-moving events isolated Murkowski. Democrats’ hope of securing witnesses appeared doomed, but the optics of what was to follow still mattered. Now she was either going to give the Republicans a clear majority against witnesses or a tied vote that would fail unless Chief Justice John Roberts took the unlikely step of breaking the tie. She told reporters she would go home, put some eyedrops in and continue to pore over documents.
Murkowski had met with McConnell privately earlier in the week, in part to gather herself for the Senate’s question-and-answer period. During those marathon sessions, she aligned herself with different factions of the party, leaving Republicans and Democrats alike guessing as to her stance.
On Friday morning the interest in Murkowski was overwhelming. CNN fixed a camera on the hallways outside her office in case she would emerge and break the news. When Murkowski left her office, she dipped out the back, bumped into E&E reporter Geof Koss and gave him the news: She was a ‘no’ and Roberts would not have to break the tie.
The moment confirmed what GOP leaders had been projecting all week: The witness vote would fail, and Trump would be acquitted by a Senate that never heard from former national security adviser John Bolton, even as new revelations in a forthcoming book rattled Washington.
“I’ve always believed there would not be votes for witness,” said Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) on Friday afternoon. “It never made sense to me. Why would we go do the House’s job? It’s their job, not our job.”
Collins and Murkowski continued to take notes during Rep. Adam Schiff’s closing remarks, despite having already decided where they’d be on the witness question. As Schiff finished up, Murkowski watched intently, gently rocking back and forth in her chair. When it came time for the vote, the Alaska Republican stood up and voted no, with little fanfare.
After the vote to bring in more witnesses fell short on a 49-51 vote, she spoke with Majority Whip John Thune one-on-one before exiting the Senate chamber.
The instant relief of Republicans could play far differently over the long arc of history — and perhaps even sooner.
The GOP’s move to dismiss relevant witness testimony will be cited for years to come and be wielded by Democrats in upcoming Senate races, warned Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who called the decision a “giant political nightmare for Republicans.”….
The final acquittal vote should be Wednesday…..