(CNN)A growing number of GOP senators are now acknowledging that President Donald Trump may have leveraged US military aid to Ukraine in exchange for an announcement of investigations that could help him politically — but they contend that even that conduct does not warrant removal from office or hearing from additional witnesses.
Republicans are arguing that the latest reports — that former national security adviser John Bolton’s book manuscript says that Trump told him in August that he was withholding $391 million in aid until Ukraine announced a probe into the Bidens — are likely true but simply confirm what is already known.
And they are saying that new allegation, first revealed by The New York Times, is consistent with the details laid out by House Democratic managers in their case that Trump used official acts to urge a foreign power to undercut a leading political rival in the 2020 presidential campaign.
But they say that nothing in there is impeachable — nor does it warrant the hearing from new witnesses since it confirms what is already known, they say. Yet it still remains to be seen if four Republicans break ranks to support witnesses, giving Democrats enough support that would dramatically change the course of Trump’s trial.
“I don’t think anything he says changes the facts,” South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the majority whip, told CNN. “I think people kind of know what the fact pattern is. … There’s already that evidence on the record.”
Sen. Kevin Cramer, a North Dakota Republican, added: “I think he sounds like a lot of the other witnesses, frankly. I don’t know that he’s got a lot new to add to it.”