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White House denies involvement in Senate decision on trial witnesses

White House denies involvement in Senate decision on trial witnesses
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The White House did not have a hand in the drama that played out earlier Saturday when the Senate initially voted to clear the way for witnesses during former President TrumpDonald TrumpRomney blasts end of filibuster, expansion of SCOTUS McConnell, GOP slam Biden's executive order on SCOTUS US raises concerns about Iran's seriousness in nuclear talks MORE's impeachment trial, only for Democrats to backtrack and cut a deal with Trump's defense team.

"The White House was not involved in discussions over calling witnesses, or the deal that was made," a White House official said.

Senators appeared to be taken by surprise when Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden officials brace for worst despite vaccine data Political fireworks fuel DC statehood hearing Democrats vow to go 'bold' — with or without GOP MORE (D-Md.), the lead House impeachment manager, moved to depose Rep. Jaime Herrera BeutlerJaime Lynn Herrera BeutlerLawmakers urge Capitol Police release IG report on riot House Republicans who backed Trump impeachment warn Democrats on Iowa election challenge Hillicon Valley: Democrats push Facebook to 'take responsibility' for placement of gun accessory ads | Lawmakers introduce bill allowing Americans to take foreign hackers to court | Malala Yousafzai signs content deal with Apple MORE (R-Wash.), who has hammered Trump for his actions after the Capitol attack on Jan. 6 and released a statement late Friday calling for those with information to speak out.

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The announcement set off something of a scramble as the two sides mulled how to move forward. Trump's team threatened to call hundreds of witnesses, something they did not have the authority to do but reflected their willingness to drag out the trial for weeks if Democrats insisted on having additional testimony.

Instead, the Senate entered a statement Herrera Beutler released on Friday night into the trial record. The agreement allowed the trial to proceed to closing arguments and a final vote on Trump's guilt on Saturday without hearing from witnesses.

Some Biden allies expressed relief that the Senate would not hear from witnesses, arguing an extended trial would hinder efforts to confirm the president's nominees and work on his legislative agenda.

"None of those who disdain the Dems for reaching a deal to move the trial forward are the Americans who are desperate for help, for work for vaccines, for their children to be back at school," tweeted David AxelrodDavid AxelrodThe George Floyd bill offers justice for Black America White House denies involvement in Senate decision on trial witnesses The Memo: Punish Trump or risk a repeat, warn Democrats MORE, who served as a senior adviser to former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaUS raises concerns about Iran's seriousness in nuclear talks Matt Stoller calls on Biden administration to keep McKinsey away from infrastructure Obamas describe meeting Prince Philip in statement mourning his death MORE. "The other path would have tied up the senate for weeks. They made the right decision."

The Senate voted 57-43 to acquit Trump.