That’s because a pair of moderate Republicans who are key swing votes on setting the rules for the trial said they wouldn’t push to subpoena Bolton to begin the trial — a win for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and President Trump.
“I believe that the Senate should follow the precedent that was established in the trial of President Clinton, where we had three stages,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told reporters Monday evening, throwing cold water on Democrats’ push to immediately subpoena Bolton.
“First, we heard opening statements from both sides. Then senators submitted our own questions through the chief justice,” Collins continued. “And then, we took up the issue of witnesses.”
McConnell has steadfastly refused to entertain bringing in new witnesses to begin the Senate impeachment trial, arguing they should stick close to the rules that governed President Clinton’s impeachment trial two decades ago. In that trial, no new witnesses were considered until after both sides presented their case.
But Democrats say that’s not fair. They want key fact witnesses who’ve so far refused to testify. Clinton’s impeachment took place after an extensive special counsel investigation, while a number of top current and former Trump administration officials — with Bolton chief among them — have until now stonewalled the impeachment proceedings.