SECOND UPDATE, 7:28 AM PT: The Senate voted to call witnesses in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, after a last-minute report of a call that the then-president made with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy as the siege was unfolding.
The vote was 55-45. There was some confusion over what the senators actually voted on — whether it was to call witnesses in general or just one witness, a Republican congresswoman who said she was briefed on the details of the call.
Five Republican senators voted with Democrats to call witnesses: Ben Sasse, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney. Lindsey Graham changed his vote from nay to yay, as he has said that he would like to call House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about how much she knew about the threat to the Capitol in advance of the storming of the Capitol.
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Democrats want to call Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), who released a statement on Friday evening that confirmed a CNN report on what McCarthy told her about the call. Herrera Beutler was among the Republicans who voted to impeach Trump.
She said in a statement, “When McCarthy finally reached the president on January 6 and asked him to publicly and forcefully call off the riot, the president initially repeated the falsehood that it was antifa that had breached the Capitol. McCarthy refuted that and told the president that these were Trump supporters. That’s when, according to McCarthy, the president said:‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.’”
“Since I publicly announced my decision to vote for impeachment, I have shared these details in countless conversations with constituents and colleagues, and multiple times through the media and other public forums.” She said that she had been public on the details of the conversation, sharing them in another news report and with constituents.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) said that the phone call will provide evidence as to Trump’s state of mind.
The decision to move forward with even one witness likely will extend the proceedings after there was some expectation that the proceedings would wrap up Saturday afternoon. All signs were that Trump would be acquitted, as impeachment managers would fall short of the 2/3 of members needed to convict.
If Trump is convicted, he would be barred from running for president again.
UPDATE, 7:20 AM PT: Democrats prosecuting the case against Donald Trump moved to call at least one witness in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) said that the impeachment managers want to subpoena testimony from Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), one of the sources of a CNN report that Trump, in a phone call with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, was unconcerned about the Capitol siege as it was unfolding on Jan. 6.
Raskin said that they also would seek Beutler’s notes about the conversation.
According to the CNN report, McCarthy begged Trump to call off the rioters as the Capitol was under attack, but Trump told him, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.” The report was based on accounts of lawmakers who were briefed on the call.
One of Trump’s attorneys, Michael Van der Veen, reacted angrily to the new development, arguing that “if they wanna have witnesses, I’m gonna want over at least 100 depositions.” He even demanded that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris be deposed in his office. Democrats laughed after the comment.
“Now is the time to end this, now is the time to hear closing arguments,” he said.
The Senate then moved to a vote on whether to allow witnesses in the trial.
It had looked as if Democrats wanted to move swiftly through the trial without calling witnesses, as it looked unlikely that extending the proceedings further would sway enough Republican votes to convict.. But the revelation of the Trump-McCarthy call changed that equation. Raskin said that the call was central to showing Trump’s state of mind as the siege unfolded.
Trump was impeached on one article of inciting an insurrection.
PREVIOUSLY: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to vote to acquit Donald Trump in the Senate impeachment trial, multiple news outlets reported on Saturday.
That make it all the more likely that Trump will not be convicted, with a vote possible later in the afternoon.
Politico and other sources reported that he informed colleagues in a letter of his decision. While critical of Trump’s conduct on Jan. 6, McConnell has up to now declined to say which way he was leaning. During the trial, he has stared straight ahead as the impeachment managers and Trump’s legal team has presented their arguments.
The trial will resume on Saturday morning with closing arguments, unless impeachment managers make a move to call witnesses. The Senate has set aside four hours for closing arguments, meaning a vote could come mid-afternoon.
There have been renewed calls for Democrats to call witnesses after a CNN report on Friday that revealed details of a call that Trump had with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.