Trump World stunned by move to call witnesses

Former President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 panel faces double-edged sword with Alex Jones, Roger Stone Trump goes after Woodward, Costa over China Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves MORE’s legal team was shocked by the Senate vote to call witnesses in his impeachment trial, an eleventh-hour twist at a trial they believed would wrap up Saturday with a vote to acquit.

One source in touch with the legal team said that at least one aide assisting the defense had to scrap vacation plans scheduled to begin Sunday as Washington grappled with the new reality that the trial could drag on for days or weeks.

“No one expected this on our side. People are universally stunned,” said the source. “Everyone was expecting to be done this afternoon.”


Democratic House impeachment managers on Saturday morning said they wanted to subpoena Rep. Jaime Herrera BeutlerJaime Lynn Herrera BeutlerIt's time for Congress to guarantee Medigap Health Insurance for vulnerable Americans with kidney disease Washington redistricting panel reaches late agreement on new lines Trump criticizes McCarthy for treatment of Greene in new book MORE (R-Wash.), whose claims that Trump privately dismissed pleas to squash the Jan. 6 riot shook Washington on Friday night.

"Needless to say, this is an additional, critical piece of corroborating evidence further confirming the charges before you, as well as the president's willful dereliction of duty," Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinTrump allies leaning on his executive privilege claims Oversight panel eyes excessive bail, jail overcrowding in New York City Jan. 6 panel may see leverage from Bannon prosecution MORE (D-Md.), the lead impeachment manager, said.

Trump’s attorney Michael van der Veen fumed, saying that if Democrats stopped the trial to investigate new claims, he’d try to depose scores of his own witnesses, including Vice President Harris, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiFive reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season Bipartisan success in the Senate signals room for more compromise The GOP's post-1/6 playbook is clear — and it's dangerous MORE (D-Calif.) and Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel BowserMuriel BowserDC homicide level highest since 2003 Pentagon watchdog raises questions over retired DC Guard commander's account of Jan. 6 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - House Democrats eye big vote on Biden measure MORE (D).

“The only thing I ask if you vote for witnesses [is] do not handcuff me by limiting the number of witnesses I can have,” van der Veen said. “I need a thorough investigation. ... I need the 9/11-style investigation that Nancy Pelosi called for. It should have been done already. It’s a dereliction of the House managers' duty. Now at the last minute, after a stipulation had been worked out, they want to go back on that. We should close this case out today.”

Trump’s attorneys have been eager to bring the trial to a swift end, believing the outcome was a foregone conclusion. The defense used only about 3 ½ hours of its allotted 16 hours before resting.


There is speculation that the introduction of new witnesses could drag the impeachment trial into next week or beyond.

Trump’s allies are uncertain about whether the witnesses are a net positive or a net negative for the former president’s case.

Democrats could block the witnesses the Trump team hopes to bring, including Pelosi and Harris. But the GOP source said that would make it look like they have something to hide.

At the moment, it appears Senate Republicans are on track to acquit Trump, although Herrera Beutler’s testimony could be severely damaging for him.

“I don’t know if it’s a net positive, but it will turn this into even more of a circus,” the source said. “It will also stop a lot of work in the Senate on COVID relief, so when people aren’t getting checks, they’re going to be f---ing pissed. Then then White House nominations for agencies will slow down to a snail’s pace. So the government will come to a standstill, and it will be a circus, and I don’t think the public has any appetite for this to drag on or turn this into a circus.”