Trump impeachment trial: Senate votes to allow witnesses

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP/ NewsNation Now) — While closing arguments were planned for Saturday in former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, the Senate has now voted 55-45 to call witnesses.

On Friday, Trump’s lawyers presented their defense arguments in the former president’s historic second impeachment trial. Democratic House impeachment managers wrapped their case Thursday.

A two-thirds majority of the 100-member Senate would have to support the charge to convict Trump, meaning 17 Republicans would need to join all 50 Democrats in backing it.  If they convict, it could pave the way for lawmakers to bar Trump from holding public office again.

The Democratic-led House of Representatives impeached Trump on January 13 on a single charge of inciting insurrection, focusing on a speech he made to supporters shortly before the D.C. riot.

House impeachment prosecutors say they will be preparing a deposition of Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler over fresh information in Trump’s trial over the deadly attack at the Capitol.

Lead Democratic prosecutor Jamie Raskin of Maryland said Saturday he would seek to hear from the Republican congresswoman, who has widely shared a conversation she had with House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy over Trump’s actions Jan. 6 as the mob was rioting over the presidential election results.

It’s unclear if she or any other witnesses will be called.

Raskin said he would pursue a virtual interview with the Washington lawmaker.

Senators are meeting in a rare Saturday session in what is expected to be the final day in Trump’s historic trial.

Earlier Saturday, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell told colleagues he will vote to acquit Trump, a source told The Associated Press.

Donald Trump’s lawyers Friday laid out their case for why the former president should be acquitted of inciting last month’s deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol.

After a prosecution case rooted in images from the Capitol siege, the impeachment trial shifted to defense lawyers who were prepared to make a fundamental concession: The violence was every bit as traumatic, unacceptable and illegal as Democrats say — but Trump did not order it.

Trump’s defense team wrapped their case Friday afternoon after a three-hour presentation; the Senate then took a 15-minute recess before resuming.

One of the first questions came from Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who have been critical of Trump’s actions. They asked Trump’s lawyers to lay out in detail what Trump did to stop the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, and when Trump first learned the building had been breached.

The time expired for the questions and answers period shortly before 6:30 EST. The trial adjourned until 10 a.m. EST Saturday.

Per the rules of the impeachment trial, following the conclusion of presentations from both sides and the questions and answers period, there will be closing arguments and an opportunity for the Senate to hold deliberations.

At the conclusion of closing arguments and, if requested, deliberation time for senators, the Senate will vote whether or not to convict Trump on the incitement of insurrection charge.

Senators are on track for final arguments and a vote as soon as Saturday evening.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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