Not gonna work, although Schiff knows that and doesn’t intend this to be a bona fide offer, I think. Imagine if a group of centrist Republicans took him up on it and Bolton was deposed, and in the course of his deposition he accused Pompeo or Mulvaney or whoever of complicity in the Ukraine quid pro quo.
Does anyone think Schiff would observe his one-week deadline for trying to depose Mulvaney and/or Pompeo? “I wish we could follow up on these explosive leads but it seems we’re out of time.”
This offer is really designed to bolster the messaging Dems are preparing for after the verdict is in, which has already begun to some extent. The more accommodating Democrats appear before the GOP votes no on witnesses then in theory the more inclined the public will be to view Republicans’ refusal to call anyone as unreasonable. Plus, emphasizing that this is “the Clinton model” may convince fencesitters that it’s fair. There’s precedent.
ADAM SCHIFF: "I will make an offer to opposing counsel: … Let's [cap] the depositions to one week. In the Clinton trial, there was one week of depositions … You want the Clinton model? Let's use the Clinton model."
— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) January 30, 2020
If he wanted to make things interesting he could scrap the offer of a timetable and propose a straight-up one-for-one Bolton-for-Biden trade. No other witnesses, just those two, no matter who else they might implicate once they’re under oath. Depositions could be done in a couple of days. That would take away the GOP’s argument that the trial might last until spring if witnesses start getting called.
Could Schiff and Schumer make that offer? They don’t want to give in to the Republicans on Biden, especially given how unpredictable his testimony might be and how it might affect Joe’s chances in Iowa and New Hampshire in the next two weeks. But if they really want to go for broke with Bolton — and they probably don’t — then that’s the only offer that might make Murkowski and Lamar Alexander say, “Hmmmm.” And if the GOP voted against calling witnesses anyway, then Dems would be able to say to Republicans who were interested in hearing Biden’s testimony, “We tried. We were willing to give him to you (even though you don’t actually need Democratic votes to call him). Your guys were too frightened of what Bolton might say to finally give the president a crack at the Burisma matter under a big spotlight.”
The mystery tonight isn’t whether Republicans will accept Schiff’s offer, it’s whether they’re going to torpedo witnesses and then race to a verdict tomorrow night or take an extra day or two. The timeline isn’t inconsequential: If this bleeds into Saturday evening, Bernie, Warren, and Amy Klobuchar will lose a precious day that they might otherwise have used to campaign in Iowa.
“People will probably want at some point to put statements in the record about how they came to the conclusion they did and that sort of thing. Whether or not that requires a bunch of speechifying in the Senate, I don’t know,” Thune said. “I can tell you there are a lot of our members … who, if we can prevail on witnesses, want to just move to the final question as quickly as possible and conclude this.”
Democrats are still holding out some hope that Alexander, Murkowski or a surprise Republican will revolt against McConnell and Trump and force deliberation over witnesses like former national security adviser John Bolton. But they are also beginning to discuss a backup plan: forcing more tough votes before acquittal.
Those options could range from proposals for a closed-door session to having more time to deliberate before delivering a verdict.
What do “deliberations” amount to in this case? Floor speeches, or does the Senate go into closed session? Or does each caucus huddle separately? I can’t imagine how absurd the “deliberations” would be in that last case, with around 96 of the 100 members already mortal locks to vote a certain way. Does this sound like a person who’s open to being persuaded in conversations with fellow jurors?
CJ Roberts just read @SenWarren’s Q: “Does fact that the Chief Justice is presiding over an impeachment trial in which Republican senators have thus far refused to allow witnesses or evidence contribute to the loss of legitimacy of the Chief Justice, #SCOTUS or Constitution?”
— Kimberly Atkins (@KimberlyEAtkins) January 30, 2020
Maybe Romney, Manchin, Doug Jones, and Kyrsten Sinema, the four legit undecideds, would go into a room together and try to work something out. A vote to remove on the “abuse of power” count and to acquit on “obstruction of Congress,” for instance. Although I don’t think Romney has the stones to go that nuclear.
Sounds like Team Mitch is ready to sprint to the finish line tomorrow night:
Rep. Conf. Chair Sen. Barrasso lays out potential Friday schedule:
-1PM: 4 hours of closing arguments, including debate on witnesses
– Vote on witnesses
– If it fails, move to vote on the articles
Senators will "stay until that work is decided and completed Friday evening."
— Geoff Bennett (@GeoffRBennett) January 30, 2020
In lieu of an exit question, here’s a sneak preview of McConnell’s response to Schiff’s compromise offer.