Rand Paul Threatens Vulnerable Republicans If They Vote For Explosive Witnesses
Senator Rand Paul has no trouble bucking President Donald Trump at times, such as the president’s decision to take out Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, but when it comes to impeachment he is taking a hard line, Politico reported.
The Kentucky Republican has threatened vulnerable GOP incumbents with a tough vote should they decide to join Democrats in calling for new evidence and witness testimony in Trump’s impeachment trial.
Paul said he would force a vote on subpoenaing former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and the Ukraine whistleblower if four or more of his colleagues vote to call new witnesses.
“If you vote against Hunter Biden, you’re voting to lose your election, basically. Seriously. That’s what it is,” Paul told Politico on Wednesday. “If you don’t want to vote and you think you’re going to have to vote against Hunter Biden, you should just vote against witnesses, period.”
A handful of Republican senators have indicated their potential interest in hearing from former National Security Adviser John Bolton, among other possible witnesses.
But Paul wants the trial to end quickly.
“My first preference would be to be done with it as soon as possible and not to have any witnesses,” Paul said. “If they insist on having people like Bolton coming forward, my insistence will be not just one witness. But that the president should be able to call any witnesses that he deems necessary to his defense.”
How this plays out will remain unknown until after the trial begins this week, with opening arguments expected next week. At that point, the option to vote on allowing new witnesses will be entertained, and Paul’s plan might be forced into action.
Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have all expressed interest in allowing such a vote to take place; however, it their efforts fail, Politico noted, the trial would move on to closing arguments.
Collins told Politico she and her cohort are not advocating for particular witnesses but want the option on the table for witnesses to be called in general — from both sides.
“If he’s saying that both sides should have an opportunity, I agree with that, to call witnesses. We’ll make the call on which ones. But it isn’t fair to just let one side call witnesses,” she said.
Collins seemed somewhat unconcerned about Paul’s argument that voting with Democrats in favor of witness testimony would “risk a collapse in support from the GOP base,” Politico said.
On that point, Collins said: “You know, it’s not my focus. My focus is to be fair. And to have a dignified trial.”
Paul's focus appears to be party unity: “Sometimes it’s good to have people unified. ... I’m for immediate dismissal, but I know it’s not just four [senators]. There might be 10 that are against immediate dismissal. It’ll just be a vote that fails. When it’s something that we’re trying to stay together and there is the other team trying to attack our leader, I think it behooves us to have as much unanimity as we can.”