Donald Trump’s team completely freaked out when Democrats and five Republicans including Lindsey Graham voted to call other witnesses in his impeachment trial Saturday, according to a report.
Insiders close to the former president were said to be ‘floored’ ‘stunned, stupefied [and in a] total panic’ as the Senate voted 55-45 to allow witnesses to be called in Trump’s trial for ‘inciting the insurrection’ on the Capitol that left five dead.
The trial took a dramatic turn Saturday when House Manager Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland spoke on the need for hearing from at least one witness – Herrera Beutler, a Republican from Washington state.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy had told her about his phone call with Trump while the violent MAGA mob was rampaging through the Capitol.
Beutler said in a town hall this week and in an interview with CNN Friday that Trump told McCarthy: ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are’.
At the time, the mob was violently storming the Capitol and the House Minority Leader was begging Trump to call them off.
Five GOP lawmakers crossed partisan lines to vote in favor of hearing from Bautler before the Senate voted on whether to acquit or convict the Republican ex-president in a move that .
But in another twist, the calling of witnesses was short-lived as the Democrats struck a deal not to hear from witnesses in exchange for accepting testimony about the bombshell call as evidence from Beutler.
This came after the day got off to a dramatic start when Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell revealed he would vote to acquit the former president, while sharing his procedural reasons.
The Senate then voted 57-43 to acquit Trump with just seven Republicans voting to convict.
Donald Trump’s team completely freaked out when Democrats and five Republicans including Lindsey Graham voted to call other witnesses in his impeachment trial (pictured) Saturday, according to a report
Insiders close to the former president were said to be ‘floored’ ‘stunned, stupefied [and in a] total panic’ as the Senate voted 55-45 to allow witnesses to be called in Trump’s trial for ‘inciting the insurrection’ on the Capitol that left five dead. Trump attorney Bruce Castor (left) and House Manager Jamie Raskin (right)
Trump’s team flew into a panic in the brief period where the trial looked sure to call witnesses and extend on into next week, according to
The outlet said the news hit Trump hard because he and his legal team had not been prepared for the trial running on past Saturday.
‘Donald Trump was preparing for this to be over today,’ ABC News Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl told anchor George Stephanopoulos Saturday.
Karl said Trump was planning to make a public appearance to ‘declare victory’ after being acquitted.
‘He was expected to make a public appearance perhaps immediately after or in the next day or two to declare victory, to declare vindication for the second time saying that they went after me and I was acquitted,’ he said.
Sources told the outlet the calling of witnesses was ‘entirely unanticipated’ by the former president’s legal team and that they were left ‘stunned, stupefied and still trying to digest what the implications of this are.’
While only Beutler was sure to be called, broadening the trial out to witnesses could have resulted in members of Trump’s inner White House circle also being called.
The move certainly seemed to rattle one of Trump’s lawyers Michael van der Veen who threw a tantrum saying: ‘If they want to have witnesses, I’m going to need at least 100 depositions.’
The fears for Trump and his legal team were short-lived however as Democrats agreed to get the testimony on the call as evidence instead.
Soon after, a roll call vote of the Senate was held and Trump was acquitted.
A total of 57 senators voted to convict, with 43 senators voting to acquit.
It wasn’t enough to meet the two-thirds threshold set out in the Constitution.
A total of seven Republicans voted to convict; two of them have announced they are retiring at the end of their terms.
The group included Sen. Richard Burr, who is retiring and who previously chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee during the Russia probe, and who voted ‘guilty.’ It also included Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, who had appeared to waver and who voted earlier that the proceeding was constitutional.
‘Donald Trump was preparing for this to be over today,’ ABC News Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl said Saturday
Also voting ‘guilty’ were Republicans Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Ben Sasse, and Pat Toomey, who is retiring.
It was a bipartisan vote, but well short of the 67 votes that would have been needed to convict, a bar that many pro-impeachment lawmakers believed was out of reach even before the proceedings began.
Majority Leader Sen. Charles Schumer called it the most bipartisan impeachment in American history.
‘They stormed the Senate floor. They tried to hunt down the speaker of the House,’ said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell after the chamber had voted.
‘They built a gallows and chanted about murdering the vice president. They did this because they’d been fed wild, falsehoods by the most powerful man on earth because he was angry he lost an election. Former President Trump’s actions preceding the riot were a disgraceful dereliction of duty,’ said McConnell – although he himself voted to acquit Trump of the charge, citing technical grounds.
‘The mob was assaulting the Capitol in his name. These criminals were carrying his banners. Hanging his flags. And screaming their loyalty to him,’ said McConnell.
McConnell, who declined to call back the Senate into session following the House’s January impeachment, also said Trump is not in the clear just yet.
‘President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office,’ McConnell said.
‘As an ordinary citizen unless the statute of limitations has run, still liable for everything he did while he’s in office. Didn’t get away with anything – yet. Yet,’ Mcconnell said. He brought up the criminal justice system and civil litigation. ‘Presidents are not immune from being accountable by either one.’
‘He is hereby acquitted of the charge in said article,’ said Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont after the votes were cast.
Minutes after the Senate voted, Trump issued a statement attacking Democrats from his office at Mar-a-Lago.
Karl said Trump (pictured) was planning to make a public appearance to ‘declare victory’ after being acquitted
‘It is a sad commentary on our times that one political party in America is given a free pass to denigrate the rule of law, defame law enforcement, cheer mobs, excuse rioters, and transform justice into a tool of political vengeance, and persecute, blacklist, cancel and suppress all people and viewpoints with whom or which they disagree,’ he said.
‘I always have, and always will, be a champion for the unwavering rule of law, the heroes of law enforcement, and the right of Americans to peacefully and honorably debate the issues of the day without malice and without hate,’ said Trump.
The testimony about the phone call was not enough to secure conviction.
It provided a window into Trump’s conduct while the Capitol riot was underway with Democratic managers using the statement to argue that Trump inflamed the riot rather than trying to stop it.
But Raskin’s request threatened to blow up the trial schedule, potentially dragging it out for weeks, especially after Trump’s legal team threatened to call more than 300 witnesses.
That evidently was an outcome neither side was willing to stomach, for different reasons.
After a break, both Trump’s lawyer and Raskin agreed to a ‘stipulation’ of the evidence, which Raskin then read into the trial record.
Trump lawyer Bruce Castor said Trump through his lawyers was prepared to stipulate that Rep. Herrera Beutler, were she to testify under oath, it would be consistent with her Feb. 12th statement, which Raskin then read.
The agreement then allowed the trial to move on past the witness phase – meaning none were called.
It was a swift conclusion to the matter only hours after House managers moved to call Beutler for testimony about her stunning claims about what Trump said his supporters were ransacking the Capitol.
With the evidence in the record and in hand – and with neither side demanding more witnesses – Raskin immediately pounced on the new information, saying Trump took actions that ‘further incited the insurgents to be more inflamed and to take even more extreme selective and focused action against Vice President Mike Pence.’
Raskin read Trump’s quote from Herrera Beutler’s notes to McCarthy aloud again. ‘Think about that for a second. This uncontradicted statement that has just been stipulated as part of the evidentiary record. The president said, ‘Well, I guess these people’ – meaning the mobsters, the insurrectionists – ‘are more upset about the election than you.’ That conduct is obviously part of the constitutional offense that he was impeached for, namely incitement to insurrection, that is continuing incitement to the insurrection,’ he said.
He said it provided ‘further decisive evidence of his intent to incite the insurrection in the first place.’
Another manager, Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, repeated the quote in his own arguments afterward. He said Trump ‘was essentially saying: You got what you deserve.’
‘His sole focus was stealing the election for himself,’ said Cicilline.
The earlier vote on witnesses before a deal prevailed on a procedural vote – with five Republicans voting to hear from the Republican lawmakers.
Among them were four Republican senators who had voted that the trial itself was constitutional – Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, as well as Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Trump loyalist who changed his vote to back the move.
Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland moved to be able to depose Republican Rep. Jaime Herera Beutler after she reiterated comments about what she says House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told her about his conversation with President Donald Trump
Rep. Raskin put the witness question to a vote after Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler issued a statement about her conversation with Rep. Kevin McCarthy
For hours Saturday move threw the trial’s schedule into doubt, with some lawmakers having earlier predicted it would wrap up Saturday.
For a time, it reframed what had appeared to be the culmination of the impeachment trial, with the schedule and lawmakers plans to go home thrown into chaos and Joe Biden’s legislative agenda being caught up in the confusion. Trump advisor Jason Miller soon brandished a list of 301 witnesses ‘so far’ that the president’s team threatened to call, and a list that includes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer.
Raskin, the lead House impeachment manager, said on the Senate floor Saturday he wanted to depose Beutler (R-Wash.) as well as her contemporaneous notes about what she knows.
Raskin said the deposition could take place on Zoom and would take only an hour.
His request drew an immediate explosive response from Trump impeachment lawyer Michael van der Veen.
‘If they want to have witnesses, I’m going to need at least 100 depositions. Not just one,’ he fumed – threatening to drag out the trial that senators were forced to view in silence for nearly a week.
Then he raised the stakes even further.
The move to subpoena witnesses and documents got 5 Republican votes
Michael van der Veen, attorney for former President Donald Trump, bristled at the Democratic request for witnesses. ‘Do not handcuff me by limiting the numbers of witnesses that I can have. I need to do a thorough investigation that they did not do,’ he said
House impeachment manager Delegate Stacey Plaskett, D-V.I., center, walks through the Capitol Rotunda to the Senate on the fifth day of the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021 in Washington
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) voted for Raskin’s witness motion, then got in a clash with Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin
‘Nancy Pelosi’s deposition needs to be taken. Vice President Harris’ deposition, absolutely, needs to be taken. None of these depositions should be done by zoom. We didn’t’ do this hearing by Zoom,’ said Van der Veen. ‘These depositions should be done in person in my office in Philadelphia. That’s where they should be done!’
‘That’s where they should be done. I need to do the 911-style investigation that Nancy Pelosi called for,’ he said.
His Philadelphia comment brought audible laughter inside the chamber.
‘I don’t know why you’re laughing,’ said van der Veen, whose Philadelphia firm touts numerous awards he has won to victims of automobile accidents. He said that’s how depositions are done in civil proceedings.
‘I haven’t laughed at any of you. And there’s nothing laughable here,’ he scolded senators. ‘Now is the time to end this,’ he argued.
After a series of angry statements by the Trump lawyer, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, presiding, cautioned senators to refrain from statements ‘non-conducive to civil discourse.’
‘Do not handcuff me by limiting the numbers of witnesses that I can have. I need to do a thorough investigation that they did not do,’ Van der Veen fumed.
Raskin responded to information that emerged Friday night about Beutler’s claims.
She said it reinforced ‘the President’s willful dereliction of duty and desertion of duty as commander in chief of the United States, his state of mind and his further incitement of the insurrection on January 6.’
‘For that reason, and because this is the proper time to do so under the resolution of that the Senate adopted to set the rules for the trial, we would like the opportunity to subpoena Congresswoman Herrera regarding her communications with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. It’s is a subpoena for contemporaneous notes that she made regarding what President Trump told Kevin McCarthy in the middle of the insurrection,’ he said.
He said the deposition would be an hour ‘or less’ just as soon as the lawmaker is available, and that managers would then proceed to the next phase of the trial, including the introduction of that testimony shortly thereafter.
But he raised the possibility of more witnesses for the prosecution.
‘Congresswoman Beutler further states that she hopes other witnesses to this part of the story, other patriots as she put it would come forward and if that happens, we would seek the opportunity to take their depositions via zoom also for less than an hour or two subpoena other relevant documents as well,’ said Raskin.
But not all senators were entirely sure what they were voting about, with Sen. Todd Young of Alaska asking in mid vote what was the substance.
After the drama on the floor, Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson complained about the sudden turn – after being spotted having an angry clash with Sen. Mitt Romney inside the chamber.
‘It’s not healing it’s not, it’s not unifying it’s just like opening up a wound and just rubbing salt in it and I thought we were going come to a conclusion here today and it was rip the wound back open, let’s – let’s rub more salt in it,’ he complained.
He also claimed the public hearing he organized as chairman on claims of election irregularities being pushed by President Trump was done to ‘defuse’ the situation.
As senators worked to reassemble a way forward, Graham tweeted that it was better to go to a final vote but ‘if the body wants witnesses, I am going to insist we have multiple witnesses.’ He said it was best to start with Pelosi to see ‘as to whether or not there was credible evidence of pre-planned violence before President Trump spoke?’ He said it was ‘incredibly relevant’ to the incitement charge.
Sparks flew several more times throughout closing arguments after both sides agreed to move on without witnesses.
Cicilline said two things during his turn that got the attention of Trump’s attorney and Sen. Mike Lee, who had previously objected to how the Rhode Island Democrat contextualized the phone call between Trump and Tuberville, which came through on Lee’s phone.
‘According to the facts revealed last night, the vice president’s team does not agree with the president’s counsel’s assessment either, the report says and I quote ‘Pence’s team does not agree with the Trump lawyer’s assessment that Trump was concerned about Pence’s safety,” Cicilline said on the Senate floor.
‘Trump didn’t call that day or for five days after that. No one else on Trump’s team called when Pence was evacuated to one room and another, the screaming mob nearby,’ Cicilline said, again quoting Dawsey.
Van der Veen jumped up to point out Democrats weren’t allowed to include new evidence during closing arguments.
‘New evidence is not permitted in closing arguments – references to new evidence will be stricken,’ Leahy, who is chairing the proceedings, later said.
Cicilline again walked the chamber through the timeline of when Trump might have known Pence was in danger and included the new information that the president’s call to Tuberville on Lee’s phone came after Trump had tweeted negatively about the vice president.
‘Remember, by this phone call the vice president has just been evacuated on live television for his own safety and Donald Trump, after that, tweeted an attack on him, which the insurgents read on a bullhorn,’ Cicilline said. ‘And a few minutes after Donald Trump’s tweet, he didn’t reach out to check on the vice president’s safety, he called [Tuberville] to ask about delaying the certification.’
‘The call got interrupted, Sen. Tuberville has since explained, I quote, ‘I looked at the phone, it said the White House on it, I said hello, the president said a few words, I said Mr. President they’re taking the vice president out, they want me to get off the phone and I’ve got to go,” Cicilline said.
Lee, again, objected to what Cicilline said, after the impeachment manager had finished his presentation.
Leahy told him that ‘debate is not in order.’
‘Debate is not in order? This is not debate, he said something that’s not true,’ Lee complained.
Lee pulled his objection after the Senate spent several minutes doing a quorum call, further delaying the proceeding.
First thing Saturday,
‘While a close call, I am persuaded that impeachments are a tool primarily of removal and we therefore lack jurisdiction,’ McConnell said in the letter.
Although he had denounced Trump’s actions in an emotional Senate floor speech immediately after the Jan. 6 MAGA riot in the Capitol, McConnell also did not act to hasten the impeachment trial while Trump was still in office.
He voted along with 44 other Republicans that the post-presidency impeachment was unconstitutional – a position that did not prevail.
Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell arrives at the US Capitol for the fifth day of the second impeachment trial of former US President Donald Trump, on February 13, 2021, in Washington, DC. He told colleagues he will vote to acquit Trump
The drama unfolded after it was revealed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told colleagues he plans to vote to acquit Trump
House Democratic managers brought up numerous Trump administration officials who quit following the riot – among them McConnell’s wife, former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
McConnell’s decision makes it likely that only a handful of Republicans cross over to join Democrats voting to convict. With two-thirds of the Senate required, this raises the likelihood that Trump would be impeached and acquitted twice.
There was a last minute wrinkle Friday night, however.
‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,’ Trump said, according to lawmakers who were briefed on the call by McCarthy.
GOP Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who voted for Trump’s impeachment and who spoke on the record about what McCarthy told her, pleaded with ‘patriots’ to go public with their own accounts.
‘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,’ she said.
‘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,’ Jaime Herrera Beutler said.
F-word call: Kevin McCarthy pleaded with Donald Trump to call off his mob on January 6, and when Trump said ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,’ responded: ‘Who the f**k do you think you’re speaking to?’
‘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,’ Herrera Beutler recounted.
‘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.’
Other sources told CNN that McCarthy replied to Trump: ‘Who the f**k do you think you are talking to?’ and that McCarthy had phoned Trump because the MAGA mob were smashing the windows in his office.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse called for the suspension of the trial in order to depose GOP Senator Tommy Tuberville and McCarthy about their conversations with the former president during the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat and one of the 100 jurors in the trial, issued the call in a tweet late on Friday, one day before the trial was expected to conclude in an acquittal.
‘Tomorrow just got a lot more interesting,’ Whitehouse wrote, referring to reports that McCarthy lambasted Trump in an expletive-laden diatribe telling him to call off his mob of loyalists, and following Tuberville’s admission that he told Trump that Vice President Mike Pence was being evacuated from the Senate.
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