Here's why McConnell faces pressure to allow impeachment witnesses — even though it would hurt Trump's defense
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky speaking at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has made it clear he believes that a short impeachment trial with minimal witness testimony would be his preference, for the sake of keeping his party united in acquitting President Donald Trump. But on Monday in a Fox News interview, he refused to rule out the possibility he may have to allow witnesses.

On CNN's "The Situation Room," Washington Post reporter Jackie Alemany highlighted the key reason McConnell may be forced to cave: Even Republican voters want to see these witnesses testify.

"With Mitch McConnell saying, look, he's not necessarily ruling out calling witnesses, what he's saying is he just wants a written questioning period first and then to decide," said anchor Brianna Keilar. "Do you think that Mitch McConnell would ever actually agree to having live witnesses?"

"Well, it remains to be seen just how far the Senate Majority Leader could push the envelope here," said Alemany. "Clearly, [Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer has calculated the best path forward is to apply as much public pressure as possible on Mitch McConnell. And I don't know if this is necessarily just about leveraging the desired parameters of the trial. I think Schumer calculated this is politically beneficial to Democrats."

"Mitch McConnell is looking out for his Senate majority at the end of the day," continued Alemany. "There is trepidation amongst the vulnerable senators right now who don't want to be put on the record voting against having witnesses or having documents. That would be something that could be potentially damaging to their re-election campaigns. An ABC News/Washington Post poll that came out last week showed that while Republicans are overwhelmingly against impeaching the president, two out of three believe there should be a trial and the president should allow those witnesses come forward in a Senate impeachment trial."

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