McConnell on the verge of pulling off the ‘unthinkable’ thanks to his shrewd behind the scenes maneuvering: analysis
Sen. Mitch McConnell, photo by Gage Skidmore

In an analysis for CNN today, Chris Cillizza had some cautious praise for Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), saying that he managed to pull off a "near-impossible feat" in regards to President Trump's impeachment trial.


"With Tennessee GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander's announcement late Thursday night that he would vote against calling witnesses, it now looks very, very likely that not only will there be no witnesses -- the first time that has been the case in a Senate impeachment trial -- but that the entire trial could wrap up by Friday night or early Saturday morning," Cillizza writes.

It was a feat made possible due to the fact that McConnell "has carefully -- and quietly -- executed a strategy designed to keep his conference in line on key votes."

Cillizza contends that it was all due to McConnell's "power play" earlier this month where he "knee-capped" House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's effort to get him to make concessions by holding onto the two articles of impeachment passed by the House, and then proceeded to lay low -- only to reemerge this week to tell his colleagues in a closed-door session that Republicans did not yet have the votes to block witnesses.

"But he also put a strategy in place: emphasize the fact that lots and lots of witnesses were called in the House impeachment proceedings and make very clear to on-the-fence senators that Democrats would never be satisfied with only one witness -- even if that witness was former national security adviser John Bolton," Cillizza writes. "They would ask for more witnesses post-Bolton and the trial could go on for weeks or even months. And that would hurt any and all vulnerable Republicans on the ballot this November."

As things play out, it's looking more and more likely that Trump will be acquitted before Super Bowl Sunday, "which was unthinkable 10 days ago and is a testament to McConnell's skills as a persuader and vote-counting virtuoso."

Read the full analysis over at CNN.com.