Senate Flip Flops on Witnesses in Trump Impeachment Trial, Closing Arguments to Begin

The plan was to begin calling witnesses on Saturday, then it wasn’t

Last Updated: February 13, 2021 @ 10:20 AM

After initially voting to begin calling witnesses in the second impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump, House managers and Trump’s defense team instead agreed on admitting a witness statement into Trump’s trial record.

The statement, from Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Washington), concerned the phone call between Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) on Jan. 6, the day of the Capitol riot. In her statement, Beutler said, “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.'”

With the statement submitted, closing arguments are currently underway.

Earlier on Saturday, in a surprise move, the Senate voted to call witnesses, with five Republicans, including staunch Trump supporter Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, joined the 50 senators who caucus with the Democrats to extend the trial.

Republican senators Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah and Ben Sasse of Nebraska also voted in favor of witness testimony.

The trial is now expected to wrap up on Saturday with a final vote — which many expect to fall short of conviction, given that 17 Republican senators would need to vote against the former president.

The New York Times reported that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had told Republican colleagues that he planned to vote to acquit Trump of the single count for incitement to insurrection.