Senate

Democrats revive debate over calling impeachment witnesses

Greg Nash

Democrats are reviving a debate over whether to call witnesses for the impeachment trial against former President Trump, an issue that as of Friday many senators viewed as settled.

Neither House impeachment managers nor Trump’s legal team had formally closed the door to calling witnesses, but senators on both sides of the aisle expected they wouldn’t and that the trial would wrap up on Saturday.

But some Democrats are now endorsing the idea in the wake of new details about conversations then-President Trump had with Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) during the Jan. 6 attack.

“The House Managers should ask for witnesses to be called, including anyone who communicated with Donald Trump or have direct knowledge of his actions and state of mind while he was in the White House after the Capitol was breached and while the attempted coup was ongoing,” Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) tweeted on Saturday.

Markey was endorsing an idea that Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) tweeted on Friday night, saying that Trump’s legal counsel had made misrepresentations that they needed to correct. 

“One way to clear it up? Suspend trial to depose McCarthy and Tuberville under oath and get facts. Ask Secret Service to produce for review comms back to White House re VP Pence safety during siege. What did Trump know, and when did he know it?” Whitehouse tweeted. 

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) also endorsed the idea, saying that Whitehouse “nailed it.” 

Tuberville disclosed to reporters this week that he told Trump on Jan. 6, while the Capitol was under attack, that then-Vice President Pence had been removed from the Senate chamber.

Whitehouse acknowledged on Saturday that it’s up to House managers, adding “it’s not my call so we’ll see what Team Raskin decides to do.” 

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the lead House impeachment manager, has not said if they will try to call witnesses. While either Trump’s team or the House managers could press for witnesses, the Senate has to formally vote to call them. 

Republicans have threatened that if Democrats decide to call witnesses that Trump’s team will also demand to call witnesses. 

A source indicated to Politico on Saturday that they could try to call House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to explain security at the Capitol on Jan. 6. 

That effort is all but guaranteed to fail in the Senate because they would need 51 votes, which would require the support of Democrats.

Tags Capitol breach Donald Trump Ed Markey Impeachment impeachment trial Jamie Raskin Jeff Merkley Kevin McCarthy Nancy Pelosi Sheldon Whitehouse

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