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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.

Go deeper

Impeachment trial recap, day 4: Trump's team concludes speedy defense

Members of former President Donald Trumps defense team, David Schoen, center left, Michael van der Veen, center, and Bruce Castor, center right, arrive at the Capitol. Photo: Bill Clark/Getty Images

Donald Trump's legal team argued four key points during its defense of the former president on Friday — all focused on process.

The big picture: The lawyers delivered a swift defense in which they called the House charge that the former president incited the Jan. 6 insurrection a "preposterous and monstrous lie." In their presentation, the defense team asserted that the trial itself is unconstitutional; there was no due process; convicting Trump violates his First Amendment rights; and impeachment fails to unify the country.

Updated Feb 12, 2021 - Politics & Policy

The daily highlights from Trump's 2nd Senate impeachment trial

Trucks with LED screens displaying anti-Trump messages in front of the Capitol. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

President Trump was acquitted by the Senate on Feb. 13 in his second impeachment trial, in which he was faced a single charge from the House of Representatives for inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

The big picture: At five days, it was the fastest impeachment trial of a U.S. president and ended with the most bipartisan conviction vote in history. Still, the seven Republicans who joined all Democrats were not enough to reach the two-thirds majority necessary for conviction.

Updated Feb 12, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Inside Trump's impeachment defense

Trump defense attorneys Bruce Castor (left) and Michael van der Veen. Photo: Michael Reynolds/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Donald Trump's legal defense will focus entirely on process, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The attorneys representing the former president know it's fruitless to continue defending his actions preceding the Capitol attack. Instead, they'll say none of that matters because the trial itself is unconstitutional — an argument many Republican senators are ready to embrace.