President Donald Trump’s defense team appealed to the Senate on Tuesday to disregard a new account by the former national security adviser John Bolton that bolsters the impeachment case against the President, The New York Times reported.
However, by day’s end, Republican leaders working feverishly to block testimony from Bolton or other witnesses indicated they had not yet corralled the votes to do so.
On the final day of arguments on Trump’s behalf, Jay Sekulow, one of the President’s private lawyers, sought to raise doubts about Bolton’s claim in an unpublished manuscript that Trump tied the release of military aid to Ukraine to investigations into his political rivals, calling it an “unsourced allegation” that was “inadmissible” in his impeachment trial.
Just after Trump’s team ended a three-day legal defense, Republican senators rushed into a private meeting room in the Capitol, where Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, worked to herd his rank and file in line behind ending the trial without witnesses, the Times adds.
He carried a card that bore a tally of Republican votes on the question, and warned that he did not yet have enough to block an expected Democratic move to call witnesses because some Republicans remained uncommitted, according to people familiar with the meeting who were not authorized to discuss it publicly.
“It was a serious family discussion,” Senator Kevin Cramer, Republican of North Dakota, told reporters as he emerged from the senators-only meeting in the Strom Thurmond Room. “Some people are sincerely exploring all the avenues.”
But behind the scenes, key Republicans said they were increasingly confident they could bring the trial to an end, and they described McConnell’s comments as a pointed signal that it was time for rank-and-file senators to fall in line, the Times noted.