The Senate voted 55-45 Saturday morning to call witnesses in the second impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump, throwing the proceedings into disarray and likely delaying a final vote on the article of impeachment for several days.
Five Republicans, Mitt Romney (Utah), Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Ben Sasse (Neb.) and Lindsay Graham (S.C.) joined all 50 Democrats in voting bring in witnesses. Graham initially had voted no on the resolution, but later changed his vote to yes.
The Democrats’ majority means they have the power to determine who and how many witnesses are called. Whoever is called will first need to be deposed by House impeachment managers and Trump’s legal team, a step that almost certainly will push back the vote on the article of impeachment.
The call for witnesses was triggered by a statement issued Friday night by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) in which described a conversation that she had with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). “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. When 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 that you are.'”
— Jaime Herrera Beutler (@HerreraBeutler) February 13, 2021
Beutler also stated that she had shared that exchange with multiple people since it occurred. She concluded her statement: “To the patriots who were standing next to the former president as these conversations were happening, or even to the former vice president: it you have something to add here, now would be the time.”
As of late Saturday morning, McCarthy has not commented publicly on that statement. According to a CNN report Friday night, Trump’s refusal to call off the rioters triggered a profane shouting match between the California congressman and Trump, with McCarthy telling the then-president that rioters were breaking into his office through the windows and saying, “Who the f*** do you think you’re talking to?”