Revelation comes on the heels of defense team's closing arguments
WASHINGTON, D.C. (KYMA, KECY/NBC News) - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has told senators privately, he does not have the votes to block new witness testimony during President Donald Trump's impeachment trial.
Democrats need at least 51 votes to call additional witnesses. An anonymous source tells the Associated Press, McConnell now faces a handful of potential defections, enough apparently, to put plans to block new testimony in peril.
The Majority Leader met with his Republican colleagues shortly after the President's defense team finished presenting its closing arguments. NBC's Alice Barr picks up the story from there.
In the Trump team's last day with the stage to themselves, they tried to take apart the Democrats' case for impeachment, and stave off new evidence that Senators could choose to hear through new witnesses and documents.
"Reject these articles of impeachment for our country and for the American people." urged attorney Pat Cipollone.
While defense member Jay Sekulow issued a sharp warning, "Danger, danger. danger..."
That removing President Trump from office would lower the bar for impeachment.
"Future presidents, Democrats, Republicans will be paralyzed the moment they are elected." warned Sekulow.
The Trump team attacked House Democrats' central claim that the President abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, saying Ukrainian leaders disagree.
"Have repeatedly said there was no pressure, it was a good call." Sekulow told the Senate.
The President's lawyers insist the hold on Ukraine's military was was "not tied to those investigations." They tried to defuse a potential threat to their case, former National Security Adviser John Bolton. In his upcoming book, described by sources to the New York Times, Bolton claims President Trump told him he withheld aid to Ukraine for political reasons.
"If you want to call that evidence, I don't know what you'd call that. I call it inadmissible." said Sekulow.
Democrats call it proof that they need to hear from witnesses.
"If you want to call that evidence, I don't know what you'd call that. I call it inadmissible." said Representative Adam Schiff, who's among the House Impeachment Managers.
The trial now heads into 16-hours of questioning that will pave the way to a vote on whether witnesses will testify - potentially adding new weight to the case against President Trump.