Lamar Alexander Seems to Be the Key to President Trump Winning the Vote for a Quick Acquittal

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., center, leaves a Senate policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, after he and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., say they have the “basic outlines” of a bipartisan deal to resume payments to health insurers that President Donald Trump has blocked. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

 

Today we will bid a fond farewell to Adam Schiff, Fat Jerry and the rest of the brain trust that comprises the House ‘impeachment managers.’ While they may not have done much to make a case for impeachment, they have gone a long way towards alienating even wavering NeverTrump Republicans. Fat Jerry accusing Republican Senators who were considering voting for acquittal of “treachery” managed to alienate even weaklings like Lisa Murkowski (READ Dems Undercut Their Hope for Witnesses at Impeachment Trial by Offending Republicans They Need For Vote).

Right now the headcount says that there are three Senators in favor of calling witnesses: Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Mitt Romney. This gives McConnell a sure 50 votes for a motion to acquit. To put that count in perspective, before Adam Schiff gave Jen Rubin a case of thigh sweats with his ‘master class’ in presenting a case to a jury, there were 45 Senators in favor of acquittal without hearing witnesses. He has lost five votes.

He needs one more. That vote belongs to retiring Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander.

Democrats, meanwhile, are holding out hope that Alexander will be their hero in the mold of the late Sen. John McCain, whose extraordinary vote derailed the GOP’s effort to repeal Obamacare. Though Alexander would never blindside McConnell the way McCain did, he is widely believed to be a Republican who could be receptive to Democrats’ message that the Senate needs to hear more evidence.

“There is an opportunity here for Sen. Alexander, who has long been a leader in crafting bipartisan resolutions to impasses, to play a significant, even a historic role,” said Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), who has spoken with Alexander about witness testimony. “He is so well-respected in his caucus that there are a number of other senators that are also looking to him.”

Alexander is unlikely to be the 51st vote for witnesses and throw momentary control of the Senate to the Democrats. More likely, if he’s feeling the need to hear new evidence in the trial, other Republicans would join him and scramble plans on how to handle witnesses and documents.

Yet at the moment, GOP leaders are not worried about Alexander, according to a Republican senator and aides privy to party strategy. They believe Alexander is likely to side with McConnell and help wrap up the trial.

But publicly, Republicans are giving him plenty of leeway and refusing to predict where he will end up. And if he is signaling how he will vote, it’s likely directly to McConnell and to no one else.

This is how the author of the piece, Burgess Everett, described the scrum last night on Twitter:

Here the key is McConnell, not Trump. Were Trump the issue, there is little doubt that Alexander would vote for witnesses. But the real issue is McConnell’s ability to lead the Senate. Alexander is retiring and it is unlikely that he’d want his last big vote to be a slap in the face for his old friend.

The only real danger remaining is that the President’s team phones in its defense and does such a bad job that Alexander feels that they aren’t taking the trial…and his vote…seriously.

streiff
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