After Trump’s lawyers rested their case late Tuesday, Republican senators rushed to McConnell’s office for a closed-door meeting. It didn’t go well for McConnell, who afterwards conceded he didn’t have the 51 votes needed to stop testimony from Bolton.
The trial drama sharply shifted to Bolton Sunday after leaks from his forthcoming book showed he spoke directly to President Trump about his desire to withhold aid until Ukraine announced an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
While most rank and file Republicans remain in lockstep with Trump, some are wavering, particularly after Trump’s own former chief of staff, respected former Gen. John Kelly, came out with an unequivocal defense of Bolton’s forthcoming book.
“If John Bolton says that in the book, I believe John Bolton,” Kelly said to a crowd in Sarasota, Florida, Monday night.
And this time it’s not just the usual suspects — Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Even Trump loyalists in the Senate have been torn by the revelation of the manuscript, which some now argue could stand in for Bolton at trial.
“I haven’t decided on that, to be honest with you, but it’s something that I know other folks have talked about – using the manuscript as a way of getting testimony,” Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) told VICE News. “I haven’t considered whether I would find that acceptable or not.”
Other Republican senators aren’t open to the idea.
“I might want to read the manuscript, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be part of the impeachment process,” Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) told reporters at the Capitol.