One of the senators, speaking anonymously, said McConnell would not call a vote on a motion to proceed to the impeachment articles unless he knew he had the 51 votes needed to end the trial, which would then set up a final vote on the articles themselves. On that final vote, 67 votes would be needed to convict Trump and remove him from office.

The other senator, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, said it “would make more sense” to move to vote on the articles of impeachment — with their 67-vote requirement — than on a motion to dismiss and “decide this on a 51-vote threshold, with the potential tie and all the recriminations that would flow from that.”