UPDATE: Murkowski is a NO, Republicans block witnesses in a 51-49 vote. Several Republican senators have released muddled statements saying that, sure, Trump may be guilty of the allegations, but they don’t want to impeach him and they don’t want witnesses.

“Just because actions meet a standard of impeachment does not mean it is in the best interest of the country to remove a President from office,” Sen. Marco Rubio opined. Clearly, Rubio has concluded that it’s not in his own best interests.

Earlier notes below: 

Mitch McConnell and the Republican caucus is expressing confidence that they have the votes in place today to block witnesses or additional evidence from the Senate trial of President Trump.

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No surprise if so. The Democrats needed to turn four Republican senators to vote against the interests of Dear Leader, who has been desperate to squelch any witness testimony. Tough sledding with this bunch. Sen. Mitt Romney and Sen. Susan Collins will vote to allow witnesses and documents; crickets from the rest of the courageous critters (the ultimate Collins move is to cast a vote that doesn’t quite move the needle; she’s got cover, for now). If Sen. Lisa Murkowski were to join them that would set up a tie, which would have to be broken by Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the trial.

Speaking of witnesses, here’s the New York Times on the latest revelations trickling out from John Bolton’s forthcoming book, even as Mitch & co. refuse to brave his testimony in the Senate:

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The newest revelations from the book by President Trump’s former national security adviser, John R. Bolton, put top aides in the room when Mr. Trump asked Mr. Bolton to help with his pressure campaign on Ukraine.

Mr. Trump gave the instruction, Mr. Bolton wrote, in the Oval Office in early May and in front of the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, who is now leading the president’s impeachment defense.

The account supports testimony from witnesses who testified in the House impeachment inquiry, including Gordon D. Sondland, who said that “everyone was in the loop.”

Around 70 percent of voters want witnesses to be called, so this could be a politically dicey move by the Republican gang that wants to proceed in finishing the trial without hearing the evidence.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, who has been weighing in throughout the trial on his blog, argues that Trump’s legal arguments are “clearly wrong” and, drawing on his experience as a trial lawyer and a trial judge, described the proceedings thus far as not a trial but a “farce”:

For the sake of justice, the Constitution of the United States, and the integrity of this process, we all should hope the Chief Justice breaks free from McConnell’s spell.   The U.S. system of justice envisioned by the Constitution is on trial.  The Constitution entrusts Chief Justice Roberts with the sole power to preside over Trump’s impeachment trial so that it is conducted according to principles of impartial justice.  The Constitution didn’t entrust that power to Mitch McConnell, nor should we.

More at Griffen’s blog.

The Senate is slated to reconvene at 1 p.m.

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