Senate strikes deal, bypassing calling impeachment witnesses

House impeachment managers, former President TrumpDonald TrumpBaldwin calls Trump criticism following 'Rust' shooting 'surreal' Haley hits the stump in South Carolina Mary Trump files to dismiss Trump's lawsuit over NYT tax story MORE's legal team and top senators struck a deal on Saturday that will let the Senate bypass calling witnesses.

The agreement comes after senators were caught flat-footed by a request from Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinHouse progressives urge Garland to intervene in ex-environmental lawyer Steven Donziger's case Trump allies leaning on his executive privilege claims Oversight panel eyes excessive bail, jail overcrowding in New York City MORE (D-Md.), the lead House impeachment manager, to depose Rep. Jaime Herrera BeutlerJaime Lynn Herrera BeutlerAdams: Maternal health is in 'a crisis within a crisis' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks up bright side beneath omicron's cloud Overnight Health Care — Presented by March of Dimes — Supreme Court weighs abortion restrictions MORE (R-Wash.), who has hammered Trump for his actions after the Capitol attack on Jan. 6.

Instead, the Senate entered a statement Herrera Beutler released on Friday night into the trial record.


The move will allow the Senate to bypass calling witnesses — a process senators warned could prolong Trump's second impeachment trial for days if not longer.

Herrera Beutler released a statement saying that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyDemocratic caucus chairs call for Boebert committee assignment removal War of words escalates in House The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks up bright side beneath omicron's cloud MORE (R-Calif.) had told her about his conversation with Trump on Jan. 6 as the riot was unfolding.

"When McCarthy finally reached the president on January 6 and asked him to publicly and forcefully call off the riot, the president initially repeated the falsehood that it was antifa that had breached the Capitol. McCarthy refuted that and told the president that these were Trump supporters. That’s when, according to McCarthy, the president said: 'Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,'" she said.

Bruce Castor, one of Trump's lawyers, said the statement was the same as the testimony the GOP lawmaker would have given if deposed. Raskin then formally agreed to the deal and read Herrera Beutler's statement into the record.

The Senate then moved on to closing arguments for the trial.


The decision was effectively a backpedal of the vote earlier Saturday to call witnesses. 

Democrats and Trump's legal team both appeared caught off guard by Raskin's request to depose the GOP lawmaker.

"We don’t know what the managers are going to do. ... I know Jamie Raskin personally. We have social conversations but we don’t talk strategy. So we did not know if they were going to request witnesses or not," said Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis Cardin Senators propose sanctions against Iran over alleged plot to kidnap US journalist It's time for Congress to guarantee Medigap Health Insurance for vulnerable Americans with kidney disease Senators call for Smithsonian Latino, women's museums to be built on National Mall MORE (D-Md.).

Jason Miller, a senior adviser to Trump, showed reporters a list of 301 names the former president's team was prepared to call if Democrats moved forward with witnesses. They wouldn't have ultimately gotten anywhere near that, but it underscored the headache Democrats were facing.

Republicans also fumed over the decision to call witnesses, which five of their GOP colleagues supported.

"I can't speak for the other 49, but there's a lot of a lot of upset people," said Sen. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerMcConnell leaves GOP in dark on debt ceiling Advocates see pilot program to address inequalities from highways as crucial first step The Memo: Rising costs a growing threat for Biden MORE (R-N.D.).