Republicans set to shut down Democrats’ witness demands

Murkowski wouldn’t tell reporters how she was going to vote as she left the Senate Thursday night. The Alaska Republican said she would release a statement in the morning after reviewing two volumes of notes from the question-and-answer marathon session.

“I’m gonna go back to my office, put some eye drops in so that I can keep reading,” Murkowski said. She wouldn’t say how she was leaning on the witness question and submitted questions that could be interpreted either way.

Though few expect him to support seeking witnesses, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) declined to comment on how he will vote: “We’ll see.” Other Republicans like Cory Gardner of Colorado, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Martha McSally have come out in opposition to hearing more evidence in the past few days.

With a growing sense they’ll win the witness vote on Friday afternoon, GOP leadership is considering the endgame of the trial and strategizing how to conclude things quickly.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) isn’t going to just roll over and allow a quick acquittal of Trump, but Republicans say they will move to a final vote on a verdict as soon as they can.

“My hope would be that if we do win tomorrow, that we will quickly close it out. I don’t think there’s any point in hanging around. I would like to go to a conclusion, Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) said in an interview. “I can tell you there are a lot of our members … who, if we can prevail on witnesses, want to just move to the final question as quickly as possible and conclude this.”

Republicans still need to figure out what the appetite is in their own conference for finishing things late Friday or early Saturday, or whether GOP senators will want more time to deliberate over Trump’s fate. While Trump is certain to be acquitted, some Republicans are still weighing the evidence against him. Senate leaders of both parties could also meet to decide how to conclude the trial.