President Trump's impeachment trial may not last much longer.
As Democrats' opening impeachment argument continues into its final day Friday, The New York Times reports the "increasing expectation in the Senate" is that a vote next week to call new witnesses like Democrats have advocated for will "fall short, moving the trial into its end game."
Axios is out with a similar report, writing that although Democrats need to sway four Republicans to vote for calling new witnesses assuming every Democrat votes in favor, "the prevailing view emerging among Republican Senate aides was that Democrats ... will struggle to get more than three." The Senate previously delayed a decision on whether to call witnesses until after the opening arguments, The Washington Post reports.
Breaking the votes down further, Axios notes that Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), who Democrats hoped to convince, is a no, and aides expect Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) will be as well. Republican aides reportedly also believe that House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) controversially suggesting that Republicans were complicit in a "cover up" and engaging in "treacherous" behavior may have backfired.
Another senator who Democrats have been targeting is Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), but after he said Friday that the House managers "presented us with a mountain of overwhelming evidence," the Post noted this "could indicate that he is not inclined to hear more." Should no witnesses be called, Trump's impeachment trial could end next week, Axios notes.
During their argument Friday, Democrats argued Trump "tried to cheat, he got caught, and then worked hard to cover it up." These final hours of arguments are key, as Axios notes if Democrats hope to sway Republican senators in the vote on witnesses, this is their "last chance."
If Donald Trump's performance at the second presidential debate Sunday night had gone differently, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) might not have announced Monday that he was done helping the Republican presidential candidate. Politico reported Tuesday that Ryan decided to "wait a little longer" than some Republican leaders were comfortable with to give Trump "a final opportunity to show genuine contrition and to demonstrate that he was serious about trying to appeal to independent voters crucial to the battle for the House, not just his die-hard fans."
Ryan stopped short of walking back his endorsement of Trump on Monday, but Politico reported that option isn't entirely off the table:
In fact, Ryan has personally been on the edge of pulling the plug but has held out because his decision is about more than just his personal feelings: It's about saving his massive 60-seat majority. The Wisconsin Republican is in an excruciating spot: He feels torn between his own conscience and his obligations as the top Republican in the country, according to multiple sources in leadership familiar with the internal discussions. [Politico]
As for Ryan's announcement Monday that he would be shifting his focus entirely from Trump to down-ballot races, Politico reported it went over well with most Republicans. Though there was "some dissent," Ryan reportedly "spent much of Monday on the phone fielding calls from Republicans, with much positive feedback."