After everyone learned that John Bolton’s upcoming book confirms Donald Trump’s guilt in his Ukraine extortion scandal, we saw certain Republican Senators begin laying the groundwork for voting in favor of having Bolton (and perhaps others) testify in Trump’s impeachment trial. They claimed they were “blindsided” by Trump’s failure to tell them about the ugly things that he knew were in Bolton’s book. In other words, they wanted an excuse for voting in favor of witnesses, after having previously voted to table an effort to have witnesses.
So it’s not surprising that by last night, Senate Republicans were letting it be known to the media that there are in fact enough votes to pass a measure that will allow witnesses to testify. Here’s how Lisa Desjardins of PBS NewsHour put it on Twitter: “WITNESS NEWS: Multiple GOP sources tell me there are or seem to be 51 votes for the first vote on witnesses – whether to consider the idea of witnesses. But not yet 51 votes for any *specific* witness.”
Wait a minute, what exactly is that supposed to mean? It sounds nonsensical that any given Republican Senator would vote in favor of opening the floor to holding votes on specific witnesses, but then turn around and vote against every proposed witness. These fence-sitting GOP Senators are known to do some comically nonsensical things, but even they wouldn’t do something that absurd.
The vulnerable Republican Senators are simply letting it be known right now that they’re going to vote in favor of witnesses, because they feel they need to cover their backsides in light of the Bolton news. But because these are the folks who try to look incremental in everything they do, they’re not yet publicly committing to calling Bolton in particular (even though this means they will). These GOP fence-sitters are exasperating and worthless, but at least their latest panic drill has them voting in our favor.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report