Senate votes to accept surprise witness request in Trump impeachment trial

Senate votes to accept surprise witness request in Trump impeachment trial

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The Senate on Saturday voted 55-45 to accept a surprise request by Democratic impeachment managers to extend former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial by calling at least one witness.

Impeachment managers led by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) said they want to depose and subpoena notes written by Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) regarding Trump’s remarks during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, which he was impeached for allegedly inciting.

Herrera Buetler said overnight that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) pleaded with Trump during the riot to call his supporters off, but that Trump told him, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”

Five Republicans backed the request for trial witnesses.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) warned Democrats before the surprise announcement by Raskin that “if you want a delay, it will be a long one with many, many witnesses.”

He then changed his vote to aye, after first voting nay, an indication he and the GOP will want to call their own witnesses, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Trump defense attorney Michael van der Veen said he was outraged that Democrats made the decision, saying it was commonly understood that the trial would conclude with four hours of closing arguments on Saturday.

Van der Veen said he would fight to subpoena a large number of people and rejected Raskin’s proposal that only Herrera Buetler be deposed and via Zoom.

“I’m gonna slap subpoenas on a good number of people if witnesses are what is required here for them to try to get their case back in order,” he said.

“Nancy Pelosi’s deposition needs to be taken. Vice President Harris’ deposition absolutely needs to be taken. And not by Zoom. None of these depositions should be done by Zoom. We didn’t do this hearing by Zoom. These depositions should be done in person in my office in Philadelphia. That’s where they should be done.”

Witnesses were not called during Trump’s first impeachment trial last year.

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