Senators, impeachment teams scramble to cut deal on witnesses

Top senators, lawyers for former President TrumpDonald TrumpPredictions of disaster for Democrats aren't guarantees of midterm failure A review of President Biden's first year on border policy  Hannity after Jan. 6 texted McEnany 'no more stolen election talk' in five-point plan for Trump MORE and the House impeachment managers are scrambling to try to cut a deal on witnesses after a surprise vote to pave the way for calling them in the trial.

The Senate voted 55-45 to allow for witnesses, a move that caught Trump world and senators off guard, with both expecting that the impeachment trial would wrap up on Saturday.

The vote threw the Senate into chaos, and now senators say there is a behind-the-scenes scramble to try to work out an agreement.


"Right now, they're just trying to work out some agreement. And if it doesn't work out, then we can have several amendments to the underlying resolution on other witnesses, so that's really the mechanics of what they're going through now. I suspect they'll work something out, but we won't know for probably an hour, hour and a half," Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisSenate panel advances bill blocking tech giants from favoring own products Eight senators ask Biden to reverse course on Trump-era solar tariffs Sinema scuttles hopes for filibuster reform MORE (R-N.C.) told reporters.

Sens. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezDems block Cruz's Nord Stream 2 sanctions bill Overnight Defense & National Security — Differences remain between NATO, Russia Senate Democrats unveil bill sanctioning Russia over Ukraine MORE (D-N.J.) and Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowMichigan Republican John James 'strongly considering' House run Updated reconciliation text includes electric vehicle tax credit opposed by Manchin Stabenow calls for expansion of school mental health services MORE (Mich.), the No. 4 Senate Democrat, both confirmed that there were talks underway to try to get a deal.

"I know the attorneys are working together," Stabenow said. "At this point, they're trying to work the whole thing out."

Senators and leadership teams are trying to craft a resolution that would outline how the Senate proceeds on witnesses, including details on how many individuals can be called.

Stabenow predicted that the Senate would vote on the resolution on Saturday.


The decision to call witnesses has upended the timeline for the impeachment trial, which was expected to come to a close on Saturday afternoon.

Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinCarville advises Democrats to 'quit being a whiny party' Biden makes final Fed board picks House Democrats inquire about possible census undercount in Detroit, other communities MORE (D-Md.) injected the uncertainty into the path forward when he announced on the Senate floor on Saturday that House impeachment managers wanted to call on Rep. Jaime Herrera BeutlerJaime Lynn Herrera BeutlerThe fates of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump Pelosi: McCarthy has 'obligation' to help Jan. 6 investigation West Virginia lawmaker slams GOP colleague over support for infrastructure law MORE (R-Wash.), who released a statement on Friday night recalling a conversation House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyHouse GOP leaders vow to end proxy voting despite widespread use among Republicans Jan. 6 committee asks Ivanka Trump to sit for interview How Kevin McCarthy sold his soul to Donald Trump MORE (R-Calif.) told her he had with Trump on the day of the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

Republicans are hoping to convince Democrats to drop their demand to interview Herrera Beutler in exchange for letting news articles about the phone call or her statement to be added to the trial record.

"I think most of us would prefer if they could simply stipulate Jamie Herrera's statement into the record and call it good. I think that would be a very gracious offer," Sen. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerBiden huddles with group of senators on Ukraine-Russia tensions Overnight Defense & National Security — Texas hostage situation rattles nation Senators to meet with Ukraine president to reaffirm US support MORE (R-N.D.) told reporters.

Meanwhile, Jason Miller, a senior adviser for Trump, showed reporters a list of 301 witnesses they were preparing to call. Democrats would reject such a move, but it appeared to be a signal of the headache awaiting House managers.


The push for witnesses appeared to catch Senate Democrats off guard, with several members describing themselves as in the dark about the next steps.

"I just work here," Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerDemocrats calls on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Bass raises nearly million since launching LA mayor campaign CNN legal analyst knocks GOP senator over remark on Biden nominee MORE (D-N.J.) told reporters.

Asked if he understood what was happening, Sen. Angus KingAngus KingManchin, Collins leading talks on overhauling election law, protecting election officials For 2022, the Senate must work in a bipartisan manner to solve the American people's concerns This week: Democrats face crunch time on voting rights MORE (I-Maine) replied, "I know that there are some discussions trying to resolve this issue. That's literally all I know."

But senators are warning that the trial could be dragged out for weeks in order to call witnesses. 

Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntSwalwell slams House Republican for touting funding in bill she voted down Johnson, Thune signal GOP's rising confidence Senate Minority Whip Thune, close McConnell ally, to run for reelection MORE (Mo.), a member of GOP leadership, warned that calling witnesses would delay the final vote for four to six weeks.

Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinSenators introduce bill aimed at protecting Ukrainian civilians Biden to huddle with Senate Democrats as voting bill on brink of defeat US budget deficit narrows sharply MORE (D-Md.), who said Democrats didn’t know Raskin would request witnesses, also floated that the trial could be delayed for weeks.

If leadership can get a deal, “we would break for probably up to two weeks,” he said.