Fox News: Trial may stretch into tomorrow or next week, even without witnesses; Update: Unlikely to vote tonight?

Fox News: Trial may stretch into tomorrow or next week, even without witnesses; Update: Unlikely to vote tonight?

I can see arguments for why both sides might want to do this, although obviously it’s more in the Democrats’ interest than the GOP’s.

But it’s not without risk for Schumer either. The verdict has always been assured; the outcome on calling witnesses also now seems assured. The Iowa caucus is three days away and no fewer than three members of Schumer’s caucus have a chance (an outside chance in two cases) to win. If Schumer uses procedural tactics to push the trial into tomorrow or Monday, denying Sanders, Warren, and Klobuchar much-needed time on the campaign trial, some lefties will blame him if Biden wins a tight election on Monday night. There was nothing to gain from drawing this out once we knew Bolton wouldn’t be called, they’ll say. Schumer did it to help Biden. How will Schumer reply?

A quick acquittal vote tonight isn’t all upside for the GOP either, though.

I can’t believe Schumer would push it all the way to caucus day knowing that the outcome is a foregone conclusion here. Sanders, Warren, and Klobuchar would never forgive him. I *can* imagine him pushing it until tomorrow, with help from Collins, Murkowski, Romney and a few others. After all, the Dems are armed and ready to wage a PR war on the GOP once the verdict is in accusing them of a cover-up by acquitting Trump. The party’s refusal to call an eager John Bolton to the stand helps with that message, especially given the strong support in public polling for new witnesses. A vote to acquit in the wee hours tonight, when most of the country has tuned out and gone to bed, will make it that much easier. “They were so ashamed they couldn’t bear to render their verdict when people were watching. They did it in the dead of night, like thieves!” Etc etc.

Collins doesn’t want that. I think she, Romney, and Murkowski will insist on at least a simulacrum of jury deliberations. And McConnell might be willing to accommodate them, if only to throw them a bone after they lost on the witness issue. But he’s taking a risk by delaying the verdict even by a day since Bolton is a loose cannon right now and might choose to finally speak publicly at any moment. The GOP will have to cope with what he says no matter when he says it, but at this point they’d rather have that happen after the trial is over. Having decided not to call him, it’ll be extra awkward and embarrassing if he pipes up before the verdict has been announced to say, “Yeah, Trump did it.” He actually did speak publicly yesterday, and while he didn’t accuse Trump of anything, his comments weren’t friendly to the president or the party:

Sources tell KXAN Bolton defended former diplomatic and state department officials Fiona Hill, Tim Morrison, Alex Vindman, Bill Taylor, and Marie Yovanovitch.

“All of them acted in the best interest of the country as they saw it and consistent to what they thought our policies were,” said Bolton, during the question-and-answer time after his keynote speech.

He went on to say members of the Trump Administration should “feel they’re able to speak their minds without retribution.”

“The idea that somehow testifying to what you think is true is destructive to the system of government we have — I think, is very nearly the reverse — the exact reverse of the truth,” said Bolton.

If the Senate adjourns tonight without a verdict, how confident are you that Bolton won’t be on CNN tomorrow morning spilling his guts? The odds may be low but they ain’t zero.

One GOP aide told Axios that it’s hard to see how this doesn’t stretch into Saturday:

“Say they do closed-door deliberations for a couple hours. That would be short, because it’s 100 senators. Even if only half of them want to speak, it’s a long time,” a Republican leadership aide told Axios.

“Then closing arguments by the managers. That’s a long day. So I just don’t see how it doesn’t bleed into Saturday.”

They could wrap up early tomorrow afternoon, minimizing the window of time Bolton has to try to blow up the trial but also giving Sanders, Warren, and Klobuchar the better part of three full days to make their closing arguments in person in Iowa. I think that’s what’ll happen. As much as Republicans want to end it ASAP, if they can deny Democrats a “dead of night!” talking point by waiting a few hours to acquit, they have little reason not to do so. If Bolton intended to say anything publicly, he probably would have said it by now. Probably.

Update: Here’s WaPo echoing Fox’s reporting, that the endgame may still be days away.

A senior administration official and two congressional officials said Friday it was unlikely that senators would rush immediately to a verdict after the witness vote fails. They requested anonymity to speak candidly about internal discussions.

The administration official and a congressional official raised the possibility that the Senate could take up a new procedural resolution laying out rules for the trial’s endgame — which could include time for closing arguments, private deliberations and public speeches by senators.

The Senate passed such a supplemental resolution in the middle of the 1999 impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.

Even passing that resolution could be a lengthy process: When senators debated the initial rules resolution last week, it took more than 12 hours of floor time to process debate on Democratic amendments to the GOP proposal, which ultimately passed unamended just before 2 a.m. on Jan. 22.

It could take until Wednesday, per one of WaPo’s sources, but that’s highly, highly unlikely. Trump and the Senate GOP will want this wrapped by the SOTU on Tuesday night. And as I say, they don’t want to give Bolton any more time than is necessary to try to muster the will to speak publicly.

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