Lamar Alexander, Who Had Suggested He Might Vote for Witnesses, Just Caved to Trump

The Tennessee senator is not running for reelection.

Tom Williams/Congressional Quarterly/Zuma

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After two days of questions concluded in the Senate impeachment trial late Thursday night, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) announced that he would vote against having witnesses appear before the Senate in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

In the lead-up to Friday’s pivotal vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has urged the Senate to block witnesses and to quickly acquit Trump. To pass the motion, the 47-person Democratic caucus needs four Republicans to vote on their side. Shortly after Alexander announced his decision, Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), who is facing a tough reelection battle, announced that she would vote in favor of having witnesses. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) also have indicated that they will likely vote to hear witnesses,. But Alexander, the deciding vote, has until now been silent.

Alexander is retiring at the end of this year, meaning that unlike other senators, he does not risk alienating constituents with his vote. Speculations about his decision loomed over Thursday night’s Senate questioning of Trump’s legal team and the House impeachment managers, as he met with Murkowski during a dinner recess.

Democrats will most likely not have the votes to pass a motion to hear witnesses, allowing the Senate to vote to acquit Trump as early as Friday afternoon. In the unlikely event of a tie, Chief Justice John Roberts, who has been presiding over the Senate trial, may be called to cast the deciding vote. 

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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