After five Republican senators voted Saturday to allow witnesses at the Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, both sides reportedly agreed to have key testimony read into the record after the emergence of a statement from a Republican Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler.
The Senate voted 55-45 to approve witnesses. Republican Sens. Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney and Ben Sasse voted in favor. The trial could have been extended for weeks without the bipartisan agreement but a verdict is now expected Saturday, Fox News reported.
Lead impeachment manager Democratic Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin unleashed the surprise request by suggesting an eleventh-hour witness had come forward and related a story about Trump telling House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to calm down about the Capitol riot of Jan. 6. (RELATED: ‘As Painful As Possible’: Trey Gowdy Says Democrats Don’t Expect To Win Impeachment, Just Shame GOP)
“Last night Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington state issued a statement confirming that in the middle of the insurrection, when House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called the president to beg for help, President Trump responded and, I quote, ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,'” Raskin told the Senate.
“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 and desertion of duty as commander in chief of the United States, his state of mind and further incitement of insurrection on January 6th,” he continued.
A subsequent vote approved not only Herrera Beutler’s appearance — virtual or otherwise — before the Senate, but potentially a hundred more witnesses.
Constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley told Fox News immediately after the vote that the development was like something out of the classic legal television series “Perry Mason.”
“It’s all perfectly bizarre to have this sudden surprise witness come up literally right before closing arguments,” Turley said. “You’re not supposed to have these types of Perry Mason moments, where someone just jumps up and says, ‘Wait, I have evidence to give.'”
Turley said Herrera Beutler’s testimony would regularly invite a blast of judicial reproach. “This is a member who was aware of this conversation for weeks, presumably other members were aware of it. So in a normal court of law a judge would go absolutely ballistic to have a witness appear at that late stage.”
Turley added that “there’s a real question here about how to do this logistically.”
“There are a dozen witnesses that could give direct testimony on what the president said and did during this critical period,” he said. “The House had four weeks after the snap impeachment and didn’t call one of them.” (RELATED: Rep. Jamie Raskin Breaks Down In Tears During Impeachment Presentation)
The House of Representatives impeached Trump for allegedly inciting a mob of his supporters to storm the Capitol building Jan. 6 after the president told the crowd, “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women. We will never give up, we will never concede.”
Police have arrested more than 200 people for participating in the riot.
The Senate voted to proceed with a trial by a vote of 56-44 on Tuesday, having judged the proceeding to be constitutional.
This is a developing story.