GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah and Ben Sasse of Nebraska voted in favor of witnesses. Before the vote was finalized, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said he was changing his vote to yes — presumably to support Trump’s lawyers also calling witnesses in addition to the House impeachment managers’ request.
The Senate was poised to vote Saturday on whether to convict Trump for inciting the insurrection at the US Capitol last month, but the Democrats’ desire for witnesses means the trial is likely to extend beyond Saturday, though senators must vote to approve any witnesses or subpoenas.The Senate was poised to vote Saturday on whether to convict Trump for inciting the insurrection at the Capitol last month, but the Democrats desire for witnesses means the trial is likely to extend beyond Saturday, though senators must vote to approve any witnesses or subpoenas.
In response, Trump’s lawyer Michael van der Veen responded that if Democrats were going to ask for witnesses, Trump’s team was going to need 100 depositions.
“If you vote for witnesses, do not handcuff me.” van der Veen said.
Democratic senators said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer signaled to them on a call Saturday morning he doesn’t know if House Democrats will ask for witnesses.
“We were told just a few minutes ago we don’t know,” Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland told CNN.
A person familiar with Trump legal team strategy said that if Democrats do seek witnesses, Trump’s legal team will try to call House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser. Of course they would need 51 votes to subpoena witnesses, so that would not happen.
The managers have repeatedly declined to say whether they will seek witnesses, though most senators don’t expect them to do so. “No comment. No comment,” Raskin said as he left the Capitol Friday evening.
The House managers have argued throughout the trial that Trump should be convicted and barred from holding future office because he was responsible for the rioters who attacked the US Capitol on January 6 and endangered the lives of lawmakers and Pence. They’ve made the case that Trump incited the rioters through months of false claims that the election was being stolen from him, then failed to take any action to stop the violence or condemn the rioters afterward.
The defense team offered its rebuttal on Friday in a brief presentation, in which they sought to equate Trump’s rhetoric with that of Democrats, arguing that political rhetoric is protected by the First Amendment and Trump’s language did not incite a riot that was pre-planned.
This story and headline have been updated with additional developments Saturday.