Republican strategists are viewing the offer as a potent tool in the PR war around the president’s impeachment trial. In their eyes, the proposal defangs a Democratic argument that Republicans are shutting down witnesses without actually having to call witnesses. It could give the appearance of fairness, they said, while also energizing the Trump base eager to at least imagine the president’s foes — like Joe Biden — taking the witness stand.

“It’s brilliant,” said a former senior administration official who remains close to the White House. “If you say no witnesses, you look weak. This takes [Democrats’] talking point away.”…

But the goal behind the witness-swap proposal, according to numerous Republicans in Trump’s orbit, was never really about securing witnesses. Instead, they saw it as a chance to gain the upper hand as polling shows Americans increasingly want a “fair” trial. Seventy-five percent of voters think witnesses should be allowed to testify, according to a new national poll from Quinnipiac University.