Senators, impeachment teams scramble to cut deal on witnesses

Top senators, lawyers for former President TrumpDonald TrumpHarry Reid reacts to Boehner book excerpt: 'We didn't mince words' Man arrested for allegedly threatening to stab undercover Asian officer in NYC Trump says GOP will take White House in 2024 in prepared speech 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 TillisThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings GOP senator recovering from surgery for prostate cancer Congress must address the toxic exposure our veterans have endured MORE (R-N.C.) told reporters.

Sens. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezDemocrats gear up for major push to lower drug prices Biden under pressure to spell out Cuba policy Senators to Biden: 'We must confront the reality' on Iran nuclear program MORE (D-N.J.) and Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowFive things to watch on Biden infrastructure plan Senators introduce bipartisan bill to expand electric vehicle charging tax credit Bottom line 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 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.) 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 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 released a statement on Friday night recalling a conversation House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyRepublican House campaign arm rakes in .7 million in first quarter McCarthy asks FBI, CIA for briefing after two men on terror watchlist stopped at border Harris in difficult starring role on border 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 administration faces big decision on whether to wade into Dakota Access fight OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court declines to hear challenge to Obama marine monument designation | Interior reverses course on tribal ownership of portion of Missouri river | White House climate adviser meets with oil and gas companies Senate GOP pushes back on list of participants in oil and gas leasing forum 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 BookerThe first Southern state legalizes marijuana — what it means nationally Top Democrat calling for expansion of child care support When it comes to the Iran nuclear deal, what's a moderate Democrat to do? MORE (D-N.J.) told reporters.

Asked if he understood what was happening, Sen. Angus KingAngus KingGroups petition EPA to remove ethane and methane from list of compounds exempt from emissions limits Lack of cyber funds in Biden infrastructure plan raises eyebrows Five things to watch on Biden infrastructure plan 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 BluntSunday shows preview: Democrats eye two-part infrastructure push; Michigan coronavirus cases surge DC delegate pushes for removing Capitol fence despite car attack Coons says bipartisan infrastructure package 'likely' to be smaller, not fully financed 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 CardinWhen it comes to the Iran nuclear deal, what's a moderate Democrat to do? Battle lines drawn on Biden's infrastructure plan GOP senator hammers Biden proposal to raise corporate tax rate 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.