KEY POINTS

  • McConnell has the votes needed to pass rules for the impeachment trial
  • Republicans hold 53 seats, but only 51 votes are needed
  • The Senate will likely vote on the trial rules later this week

While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have been hesitant to send Trump’s impeachment to the Senate for trial, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is prepared to move on without Democrats.

For McConnell to set the rules for the trial, he simply needs 51 Senators to vote in support of them – with Republicans holding 53 seats, that isn’t a difficult task.

Since December, McConnell has stood by his intent to forbid witness testimony during the Trump impeachment trial, much to the consternation of Democrats. Pelosi and Schumer have both said that it is important to hear from several individuals who did not testify during the House’s impeachment inquiry, including former national security advisor John Bolton and chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. Although they’ve fought to make this part of the trial rules, it’s looking increasingly likely they won’t win that concession.

Not all Senate Republicans, however, agree with McConnell that there shouldn’t be witnesses. Some have taken a softer stance, saying that it’s not necessary to decide on whether or not to hear testimonies until after the trial’s opening remarks.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) made waves Monday after responding to the news that former national security advisor John Bolton would be willing to give testimony. Romney said that he would be curious to learn “what [Bolton] knows,” though he stopped short of saying witnesses should be agreed upon before the Trump impeachment trial begins.

Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) have also expressed concern about barring witness testimony, though they are reportedly prepared to vote in favor of McConnell’s trial rules. With those two and Romney behind the majority leader, there’s little doubt the vote will go through.

McConnell has plans to meet with fellow Republicans on Tuesday to discuss a floor vote, which will likely come later this week.

Even if the Senate approves of trial rules without Democrats’ support, Pelosi will need to release the articles of impeachment for the trial to begin, though it’s unlikely a Senate vote will have much success in changing the House speaker’s stance.

The House voted in favor of impeaching President Donald Trump on two articles just before the holiday recess.