Updated Feb 13, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Senate votes to call witnesses in Trump impeachment trial

The Capitol Dome at night, Washington, D.C.

Photo: Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty Images

The Senate voted 55-45 on Saturday in favor of calling witnesses in former President Trump's second impeachment trial after three days of presentations from House Democrats and Trump's defense team. Five Republicans voted with Democrats to call witnesses.

The state of play: The vote opens up new possibilities for Democrats to strengthen their case, which alleges that Trump incited an insurrection on Jan 6. Witnesses were not called in Trump's first impeachment trial, but Republicans held the Senate majority at that time.

Driving the news: The Senate was expected to wrap up its trial on Saturday, but lead House impeachment manager, Rep. Jamie Raskin, announced Saturday morning that his team was seeking testimony from Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) to talk about her knowledge of a conversation between House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Trump during the Capitol attack on Jan. 6.

  • GOP Senators Susan Collins (Maine), Ben Sasse (Neb.), Mitt Romney (Utah), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) voted in favor of seeking witness testimony.

Between the lines: Some Democrats originally signaled that they would vote against witnesses. House managers throughout the week aired video and audio recordings of Trump's Jan. 6 rally and the subsequent Capitol attack, which some lawmakers said was sufficient evidence.

  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y) on Thursday told reporters that she believes that evidence suffices, stating, "We've heard from many witnesses based on their interviews and their video presentations, so, I feel like we've heard from enough witnesses."
  • Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) stated, "I think the case has been made. I don’t know what witnesses would add," per USA Today.
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