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 Trump’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 Raskin (D-Md.), the lead House impeachment manager, moved to depose Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (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.

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 Axelrod, who served as a senior adviser to former President Barack Obama. “The other path would have tied up the senate for weeks. They made the right decision.”

The Senate voted 57-43 to acquit Trump. 

Tags Barack Obama David Axelrod Donald Trump Impeachment Jaime Herrera Beutler Jamie Raskin Second impeachment of Donald Trump

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