The Senate was headed into the second week of the trial facing a pivotal vote on the subject, and it looked like Democrats would almost certainly not win the four GOP votes needed to subpoena new witnesses.
But that was before a report Sunday night in The New York Times.
Democrats immediately pounced on the news, with the Democratic impeachment managers saying there was no excuse for GOP senators not to vote for witnesses.
Bolton is one of the witnesses most important to hear from, Democrats were saying even before the new report.
“Senators should insist that Mr. Bolton be called as a witness, and provide his notes and other relevant documents. The Senate trial must seek the full truth and Mr. Bolton has vital information to provide,” the House managers said in a statement.
Senate Republican leaders before the Bolton revelations had voiced confidence that they will keep their conference unified enough to defeat a motion to subpoena new evidence, which could allow the trial to wrap up at the end of the week.
Murkowski, however, said Schiff’s remarks wouldn’t factor in her decision making.
“I’ve taken a lot of notes — it takes me back to law school. What I haven’t done is I haven’t gone through any of those but along the way I made little asterisks and notations about what I want to see, what questions I still have. So I have lot of work to do on my own,” she said.
Democrats had been growing more pessimistic about winning the witness vote, but the report in the Times gave new momentum to their calls.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the Times report gave Republican senators a choice between “our Constitution or a cover-up.”
“Amb. Bolton reportedly heard directly from Trump that aid for Ukraine was tied to political investigations. The refusal of the Senate to call for him, other relevant witnesses, and documents is now even more indefensible,” Pelosi tweeted.
A vote could take place soon.
Trump’s defense team, which used only a couple hours of its allotted floor time on Saturday, will renew its arguments at 1 p.m. Monday but is not expected to use its full 24 hours.
Senate Democrats say they plan to use the full 16 hours to ask questions after opening arguments, which sets up a debate Wednesday or Thursday on whether it should be in order to call for additional evidence.
If that motion fails, the trial could be wrapped up by the end of the week.
GOP leaders have warned their their colleagues that Trump will invoke executive privilege over his conversations with Bolton and Mulvaney, and that a court fight to settle it might drag the trial out for weeks.
“As I speak and I sit there, I find myself looking at the senators — a lot of them I served with when they were in the House — and wondering what’s going through their minds,” she said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday
Democrats say that vulnerable GOP incumbents will pay a political price in November’s general election if they vote against witnesses, pointing to recent polls showing strong public support for calling additional evidence, even among Republicans.
But GOP incumbents also have to weigh the backlash from the GOP base if they vote to extend the trial of a president who has maintained strong approval ratings among Republican voters.
White House counsel Pat Cipollone argued Saturday that voting to remove Trump from office would be a far greater subversion of democracy than anything Democrats have charged Trump with.
“They’re asking you to remove President Trump from the ballot in an election that’s occurring in approximately nine months,” he said. “They’re here to perpetrate the most massive interference in an election in American history.”