In this screenshot taken from a congress.gov webcast, lead House impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) speaks on the fifth day of former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial at the U.S. Capitol on February 13, 2021 in Washington, DC.
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The Senate on Saturday voted to begin the process of calling witnesses as part of the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump.
The surprise move throws a wrench into the trial, which was expected to end with a vote on whether to convict the former president by Saturday afternoon. It is unclear how long the process will last or how many witnesses will testify.
The chamber voted to allow witnesses in a 55-45 vote, as five Republicans joined all Democrats. The GOP senators were Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah and Ben Sasse of Nebraska.
While the other four Republicans are considered the most likely in their party to vote to convict Trump, Graham is a Trump ally who has coordinated with the former president’s lawyers during the trial.
The vote to call witnesses comes as more details were revealed Friday night about an expletive-laden argument between House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy and Trump in a phone call as the Capitol riot was unfolding, in which Trump appeared to side with rioters and said they were more “upset” over the election results than McCarthy.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., called Saturday for the deposition of Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who had confirmed contents of the call.
“Last night Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington State issued a statement confirming that in the middle of the insurrection when House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called the president to beg for help president Trump responded, and I quote, ‘Well, Kevin I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,'” Raskin, D-Md., during Saturday’s hearing.
“Needless to say this is an additional critical piece of corroborating evidence further confirming the charges before you as well as the president’s willful dereliction of duty and desertion of duty as commander of the United States, his state of mind and his further incitement of the insurrection on January 6th,” he said.
Trump lawyer Michael van der Veen responded by saying “we should close this case out today” and that the call to subpoena witnesses shows the House didn’t properly investigate the riots.
“First of all this is the proper time that we were assigned to talk about witnesses,” Raskin responded. “This is completely within the course of rules set forth by the Senate. There’s nothing remotely unusual about this.”
Throughout Friday night’s question-and-answer session, Trump’s legal team repeatedly declined to say what the former president knew about the threats to former Vice President Mike Pence’s life and when.
It led an exasperated Raskin to urge the lawyers to “bring your client up here and have him testify under oath about why he was sending out tweets denouncing the vice president of the United States while the vice president was being hunted down by a mob.”
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