AP source: McConnell says he can't yet block new witnesses

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told senators privately Tuesday he does not yet have the votes to block new witnesses in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

McConnell convened a closed-door meeting of GOP senators shortly after Trump's legal team made its closing arguments in the trial, the third and final day of defense proceedings punctuated by revelations from John Bolton, the former national security adviser. A Republican familiar with the meeting was not authorized to describe it by name and requested anonymity.

The GOP leader faced a handful of potential defections, but several days remained before any potential witness vote would be taken.

A decision to call more witnesses would need 51 votes to pass. With a 53-seat majority, Republicans can only afford to lose three Republicans to prevent more debate over witnesses.

McConnell has been trying to prevent a prolonged trial. Republicans were warned that subpoenaing testimony from Bolton or other witnesses could run quickly into legal challenges that could drag out for weeks.

But Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, has said he wants to hear what Bolton has to say. Two other Republicans, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, also want to hear from more witness.

The White House has blocked its aides from appearing in the impeachment proceedings and would almost certainly claim some sort of executive privilege or national security objections over Bolton testifying.

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Senate Impeachment Trial: Day 1
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Senate Impeachment Trial: Day 1
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., waves as the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump concludes on Capitol Hill in Washington, early Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., walks from the Senate chamber during the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., walks to the Senate chamber after a dinner break during the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
In this image from video, the vote for passage approving the rules for the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020 is displayed. Senate resolution 483 passed along a party-line vote of 53-47. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, presiding officer Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts reads the results of the vote on approving the rules for the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. Senate resolution 483 passed along a party-line vote of 53-47. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., speaks during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, Senators vote on approving the rules for the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. Senate resolution 483 passed along a party-line vote of 53-47. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, Senators vote to table an amendment by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, presiding officer Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts reads the results of the vote to table an amendment by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, White House deputy counsel Mike Purpura speaks against an amendment regarding calling witnesses offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, personal attorney to President Donald Trump, Jay Sekulow, argues against a amendment proposed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to subpoena John Bolton during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, White House counsel Pat Cipollone argues against a amendment proposed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to subpoena John Bolton during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., argues in favor of an amendment proposed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to subpoena John Bolton during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., argues in favor of an amendment proposed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to subpoena John Bolton during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., argues in favor of an amendment proposed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to subpoena John Bolton during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a video is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., argues in favor of an amendment proposed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to subpoena John Bolton during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., argues in favor of an amendment proposed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to subpoena John Bolton during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., argues in favor of an amendment proposed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to subpoena John Bolton during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., argues in favor of an amendment proposed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to subpoena John Bolton during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks past the Ohio Clock as he heads back to the Senate chamber during a break in the trial of President Donald Trump at the Capitol Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
In this image from video, a video is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., argues in favor of an amendment proposed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to subpoena John Bolton during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., argues in favor of an amendment proposed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to subpoena John Bolton during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., argues in favor of an amendment proposed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to subpoena John Bolton during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, impeachment manager Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., argues in favor of an amendment proposed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to subpoena John Bolton during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
Senate majority leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., left, walks out of the Senate chamber during a break in the trial of President Donald Trump at the Capitol Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
In this image from video, White House deputy counsel Patrick Philbin argues against an amendment regarding selective admission of evidence and handling of classified material that was offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., argues in favor of amendment regarding selective admission of evidence and handling of classified material that was offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., offers an amendment regarding selective admission of evidence and handling of classified material during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argues in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to issue subpoenas to Robert Blair and Patrick Duffey, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argues in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to issue subpoenas to Robert Blair and Patrick Duffey, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argues in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to issue subpoenas to Robert Blair and Patrick Duffey, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argues in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to issue subpoenas to Robert Blair and Patrick Duffey, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argues in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to issue subpoenas to Robert Blair and Patrick Duffey, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argues in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to issue subpoenas to Robert Blair and Patrick Duffey, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argues in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to issue subpoenas to Robert Blair and Patrick Duffey, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argues in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to issue subpoenas to Robert Blair and Patrick Duffey, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argues in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to issue subpoenas to Robert Blair and Patrick Duffey, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argues in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to issue subpoenas to Robert Blair and Patrick Duffey, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argues in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to issue subpoenas to Robert Blair and Patrick Duffey, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argues in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to issue subpoenas to Robert Blair and Patrick Duffey, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argues in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to issue subpoenas to Robert Blair and Patrick Duffey, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argues in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to issue subpoenas to Robert Blair and Patrick Duffey, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argues in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to issue subpoenas to Robert Blair and Patrick Duffey, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argues in favor of an amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to issue subpoenas to Robert Blair and Patrick Duffey, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argues in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to issue subpoenas to Robert Blair and Patrick Duffey, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., speaks in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to subpoena documents from the Department of Defense, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, presiding officer Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts speaks during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
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One closely watched Republican, retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, told reporters as he exited the private meeting he would wait for the next few days of the trial and make his decision.

Some senators have discussed trying to reach a deal with Democrats in which each side would call a witness — for example, Bolton and Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden whose work in Ukraine has been referenced by Trump's team in the impeachment proceedings. Such a deal, so far, has had few takers as most Republicans don't want to hear from Bolton and few Democrats want to draw the Bidens into the impeachment proceedings.

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