Chuck Schumer embraces an old friend: The media

“One thing I’ve learned in politics — there really is never an oversaturation point for a righteous message,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who added that Democratic demands are in line with public polling. “It makes sense to repeat it over and over and over again.”

Democrats will need at least four Republicans to join their calls for witnesses and documents; a few obvious targets are Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). But while Collins has said she is likely to support bringing in witnesses after she hears opening arguments from both sides, she’s also publicly complained about Schumer’s heavy-handed approach.

When asked about the effectiveness of Schumer’s media appearances, Annie Clark, a spokeswoman for Collins, said the Maine Republican “has been busy working and hasn’t had time to watch much TV.”

Schumer’s media approach to the Senate impeachment trial is diametrically opposed to that of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) who hasn’t held a news conference since the start of the trial and has saved his remarks for the Senate chamber.

“Leader McConnell’s results on the floor speak for themselves,” said Doug Andres, a spokesman for McConnell, referencing the Senate’s passage early Wednesday morning of the GOP leader’s resolution setting the contours of the impeachment trial.

Despite Schumer’s best efforts, a series of votes he forced well into the early hours of Wednesday morning to secure witnesses and documents failed, nearly entirely along party lines.

Schumer did keep his caucus together, with moderate Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona joining the rest of the Democratic senators on the procedural votes.

Because McConnell and Schumer were unable to reach an agreement on timing for the votes, senators were stuck in the chamber until 1 a.m.

The late-night votes left Senate Republicans frustrated Wednesday.

“Who couldn’t have been a little annoyed by that?” asked Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana. “It set the tone for what our staying power is.”

“He predictably overstays his welcome and his effectiveness,” added Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota. “He goes from having momentum to hitting the bottom pretty fast and I think he cannot resist overplaying [his] hand.”

Prior to the start of the Senate impeachment trial Wednesday, GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Steve Daines of Montana and Braun held a news conference of their own to defend the president and chastise Democrats.

But some Trump allies aren’t arguing with Schumer’s strategy. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a fierce Trump defender, acknowledged that the Democratic leader was helping his party’s cause by putting himself out there, adding that he “can’t be critical of the other side if I think it’s a good idea for our side.”

Democrats are eager to deliver some countermessaging to Trump, who can easily seize the public’s attention with his Twitter megaphone. And Schumer has encouraged his members at party lunches to flood the airwaves in a range of media outlets, according to a source familiar with the strategy.

His own caucus also views Schumer as its lead messenger.

“I think there has to be an alternative given everything that we see coming from the other side,” said Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), the most vulnerable Democrat up for reelection. “There has to be some other voice out there. He doesn’t speak for everybody, he doesn’t always speak for me, but I think there has to be some alternative [to Trump].”

Heather Caygle and Burgess Everett contributed to this report.

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