McConnell Says He’ll Vote To Acquit Trump, But Democrats Have Votes To Call Impeachment Witnesses: Live Updates
Just when you thought Donald Trump’s second impeachment trials was over, five Republicans have joined their Democratic colleagues in a Saturday morning vote (55-45) to call witnesses – an unexpected development in this snap impeachment over Trump’s alleged role inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
GOP Sens. Collins, Graham, Murkowski, Romney and Sasse were the five.
The move – which was originally opposed by several Democrats, will allow them to strengthen their case. It is unclear what kind of delay this may cause, after impeachment managers and Trump’s defense team estimated it would be over on Saturday.
In response to the vote, Trump attorney Michael van der Veen answered that if witnesses are going to be called, “I’m going to need more than 100 witnesses, not just one,” adding “we should close this case out today,” but if that doesn’t happen, “Do not handcuff me by limiting the number of witnesses I can have.”
Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren suggested that a debate on the number of witnesses should not take place, saying “I don’t think there’s any limit right now, and that’s part of what will be debated.”
As Axios notes, Trump himself is Democrats’ most desired witness, however the former president has already quashed that – saying he would not comply willingly. The Senate could subpoena him, however it’s unclear whether they would have enough support.
Instead, Democrats plan to call GOP Rep. Jamie Herrera Butler of Washington, who the NY Times reported on Friday said Trump ‘sided with the mob’ during a phone call as the attack was unfolding. Herrera Butler, who voted to impeach Trump in the House, was requested to testify by House impeachment manager Jamie Raskin.
In a statement on Friday night, Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, Republican of Washington, recounted a phone call relayed to her by Mr. McCarthy of California, the minority leader, in which Mr. Trump was said to have sided with the rioters, telling the top House Republican that members of the mob who had stormed the Capitol were “more upset about the election than you are.”
She pleaded with witnesses to step forward and share what they knew about Mr. Trump’s actions and statements as the attack was underway. –NY Times
“To the patriots who were standing next to the former president as these conversations were happening, or even to the former vice president: if you have something to add here, now would be the time,” said Herrera Beutler in a statement.
— Jaime Herrera Beutler (@HerreraBeutler) February 13, 2021
According to her account, McCarthy ‘frantically’ called Trump on Jan. 6 and asked him to “publicly and forcefully call off the riot,” and that Trump replied that it was Antifa, not his supporters, who were responsible. When McCarthy pushed back saying that wasn’t true, Trump allegedly said “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”
Senate Democrats who initially opposed witnesses include Kristen Gillibrand of NY, who said on Thursday: “We’ve heard from many witnesses based on their interviews and their video presentations, so, I feel like we’ve heard from enough witnesses.” Sen. Angus King of Maine said “I think the case has been made. I don’t know what witnesses would add.”
Once witnesses have testified, impeachment managers and Trump’s defense team will present closing arguments – with each side allotted two hours. A full vote on whether to convict or acquit will follow.
To that end, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has told his fellow Senate GOP in an email that he will vote to acquit the former president – writing “As I have said for some time, today’s vote is a vote of conscience and I know we will all treat it as such,” according to Politico‘s Burgess Everett.
McConnell says it was a “close call” but says impeachment is “primarily a tool of removal” and the Senate lacks jurisdiction . He says criminal conduct by a president in office can be prosecuted when the president is out of office pic.twitter.com/JGMTjCp2OL
— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) February 13, 2021
Sat, 02/13/2021 – 10:48