CNN
Now playing
03:21
Avlon: Truth was in short supply at impeachment trial
Brooke Baldwin last show goodbye CNN newsroom vpx_00000217.png
CNN
Brooke Baldwin last show goodbye CNN newsroom vpx_00000217.png
Now playing
03:56
'Get a little uncomfortable': See Brooke Baldwin's last words on air
Now playing
01:24
How Kyra Sedgwick got the cops called on Tom Cruise
Now playing
05:18
Anderson Cooper explains how he overcomes being shy
US Navy
Now playing
01:28
Pentagon confirms UFO video is real, taken by Navy pilot
Kristina Barboza
Now playing
03:09
Grieving mom's advice to other families: You can try to help, support and love
Fancy Feast/Purina
Now playing
01:06
Cat food company makes a cookbook ... for humans
Now playing
02:35
WWII veteran: End of the war was 'the biggest thrill of my life'
Google Earth's new timelapse feature
Google
Google Earth's new timelapse feature
Now playing
01:09
Google Earth's new Timelapse feature shows 40 years of climate change in just seconds
FOX/"The Masked Singer"
Now playing
01:23
'The Masked Singer' reveals identity of The Orca
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 07:  A visual representation of the digital Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin on December 07, 2017 in London, England. Cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Lightcoin have seen unprecedented growth in 2017, despite remaining extremely volatile. While digital currencies across the board have divided opinion between financial institutions, and now have a market cap of around 175 Billion USD, the crypto sector coninues to grow, as it continues to see wider mainstreem adoption. The price of one Bitcoin passed 15,000 USD across many exchanges today taking it higher than previous all time highs.  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 07: A visual representation of the digital Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin on December 07, 2017 in London, England. Cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Lightcoin have seen unprecedented growth in 2017, despite remaining extremely volatile. While digital currencies across the board have divided opinion between financial institutions, and now have a market cap of around 175 Billion USD, the crypto sector coninues to grow, as it continues to see wider mainstreem adoption. The price of one Bitcoin passed 15,000 USD across many exchanges today taking it higher than previous all time highs. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Now playing
03:07
Bitcoin has an energy problem
The new all-electric Mercedes-EQS
Mercedes-Benz AG
The new all-electric Mercedes-EQS
Now playing
01:05
See the new all-electric EQS luxury sedan from Mercedes
Now playing
01:32
Scientists turned spiderwebs into music and it sounds like a nightmare
Jeopardy Productions, Inc.
Now playing
01:02
Aaron Rodgers' Green Bay Packers question stumps 'Jeopardy!' contestants
Now playing
05:18
Coinbase CFO: We're an on-ramp to the crypto economy
CNN
Now playing
02:12
'Too dangerous to do anymore': Sacha Baron Cohen on Borat
(CNN) —  

Republican senators began Monday in a bad spot. They ended it feeling like they were in a better one, at least for now. What changed? A late-morning pep talk from Senate Majority Leader McConnell and a rousing argument from White House defense attorney Alan Dershowitz that gave many Republican senators the answer to the key question of the day: Why shouldn’t John Bolton testify in the impeachment trial?

At the Capitol on Monday, the revelations contained in a draft manuscript from the former national security adviser (reported by The New York Times) were unavoidable. Long a point of intrigue, Bolton’s unpublished book claims that President Donald Trump withheld aid to Ukraine to pressure the country to announce investigations into Democrats.

That would appear to confirm the central accusation of a quid pro quo against the President, and has reanimated what seemed like a dead question a day earlier of whether enough GOP senators would vote to have Bolton and perhaps other witnesses testify.

For a Republican party that has remained remarkably unified throughout the Trump era and in the impeachment process in particular, the Bolton news presents the biggest challenge yet. While there is still the possibility that enough Republicans vote to allow witnesses, the pressure to do so, while seeming red hot Monday morning, appeared to have cooled by the evening.

Ducking and dodging

Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) speaks to the press as he walks to the Senate chamber on January 27.
Mario Tama/Getty Images
Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) speaks to the press as he walks to the Senate chamber on January 27.

As senators arrived at the Capitol Monday morning, many Republicans seemed unprepared to hand the onslaught of questions. Several simply declined to answer.

Others diverted attention. When Sen. Pat Roberts was asked Monday morning to respond to the Bolton news, he responded, “I was reading Gone With the Wind.”

Reporters pressed: Why wouldn’t the Senate want to hear from a firsthand witness like Bolton? “Well, that’s a good question,” Roberts admitted.

As senators ducked and dodged, privately some GOP aides were more frank about the effect of the Bolton news.

“No one believed the White argument that Trump didn’t do it,” one aide told CNN. “He called for the investigations on TV! So, it is still a question of whether this is impeachable or if we should let the election happen.”

At a morning press conference, Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana admitted the obvious, that the Bolton news had indeed changed things.

“I think yes it probably will make the dynamic different,” Braun said. “I’m not going to deny it’s going to change the decibel level and probably the intensity of which we go about talking about witnesses.”

Calming the storm

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, center, arrives to the US Capitol on Tuesday, January 21.
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, center, arrives to the US Capitol on Tuesday, January 21.

At a pre-trial GOP conference meeting at 11:30 a.m., McConnell tried to calm everyone down. According to senators in the room, McConnell offered one simple piece of advice: take a deep breath.

It seems to have worked. The change was perhaps best reflected by West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito. The typically talkative Republican declined to answer questions about Bolton as she entered the conference meeting.

“I don’t have any comments right now, thanks,” she said.

But after Monday’s session closed, Capito sounded more supportive than ever before that she would oppose allowing witnesses, telling CNN she hasn’t “fully made up my mind yet.”

“I think a lot of points were made tonight that would discount” calling witnesses, Capito said.

Not long after, Trump defenders in the Senate got some back-up from their GOP House colleagues, a group of whom made their way to the Capitol to provide cover from the Bolton fallout.

“It should surprise no one that in the eleventh hour that we would see a replay of what we saw over in the House, which are selective leaks designed to create a narrative that ultimately will change the conversation,” said Rep. Mark Meadows, a North Carolina Republican. “But this is nothing new.”

Rallying the troops

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone (center left) and Representative Mark Meadows (R-NC) (center right) as they leave their meeting with the rest of President Donald Trump's defense team
Samuel Corum/Getty Images
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone (center left) and Representative Mark Meadows (R-NC) (center right) as they leave their meeting with the rest of President Donald Trump's defense team

If there was an indication where things were going it came just minutes before the trial began at 1 p.m., in the form of a tweet from Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who aimed her fire at Utah’s Mitt Romney, who has clearly indicated he wants to hear from Bolton.

“After 2 weeks, it’s clear that Democrats have no case for impeachment,” Loeffler tweeted. “Sadly, my colleague @SenatorRomney wants to appease the left by calling witnesses who will slander the @realDonaldTrump during their 15 minutes of fame. The circus is over. It’s time to move on!”

Loeffler’s shot across the bow was a key indication that the Bolton news is testing the unity of the Republican Conference. Loeffler, just three weeks on the job, has been friendly with Romney and previously given money to his 2012 presidential campaign and super PAC.

By the time the trial gaveled into session just after 1 p.m., it appeared Republican senators were largely in the place they were before the Bolton revelations broke Sunday night: Sens. Susan Collins and Romney in support of them, Sen. Lisa Murkowski remaining “curious” about Bolton’s testimony, and no real sense of movement from any of the other 50 GOP senators.

Dershowitz resets the mood

Allan Dershowitz in his arguments before the Senate on Monday night
Senate TV
Allan Dershowitz in his arguments before the Senate on Monday night

As the White House legal team went through its second day of opening arguments, Bolton loomed like an elephant in the room, present but unmentioned. It was only in the final presentation of the night when Dershowitz addressed Bolton head-on.

“Nothing in the Bolton revelations – even if true – would rise to the level of an abuse of power or an impeachable offense,” Dershowitz said in the middle of what otherwise sounded more like an law-school lecture than an opening argument in a trial.

Dershowitz continued with an argument meant to reassure the rattled GOP senators.

“Even if the President, any president, were to demand a quid pro quo as a condition to sending aid to a foreign country, obviously a highly disputed matter in this case, that would not by itself constitute an abuse of power,” he argued, adding, “Quid pro quo alone is not a basis for abuse of power, it’s part of the way foreign policy has been operated by presidents since the beginning of time.”

The entire prese