When Lamar Alexander and Lisa Murkowski met privately in his third-floor Capitol hideaway on Thursday night, Alexander broke the news: He was going to vote against bringing in new witnesses in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.

The Tennessee Republican explained the rationale to his Alaska colleague: That the House managers had proven their case against the president but that it still wasn’t impeachable conduct and therefore more information was unnecessary, according to a person familiar with the exchange. But Alexander did not lobby Murkowski to join him…

Still, in her meeting with Alexander, Murkowski kept her decision a secret…

The fast-moving events isolated Murkowski. Democrats’ hope of securing witnesses appeared doomed, but the optics of what was to follow still mattered. Now she was either going to give the Republicans a clear majority against witnesses or a tied vote that would fail unless Chief Justice John Roberts took the unlikely step of breaking the tie. She told reporters she would go home, put some eyedrops in and continue to pore over documents.