No witnesses are being summoned in the impeachment trial against Donald Trump. Democratic and Republican senators concluded a compromise after a few hours of consultation to have a Republican member of the House of Representatives read out a statement from a Republican Member and include its contents in the trial report instead of summoning witnesses.
Now that the call of witnesses has not been made, the closing arguments have begun. It is expected that Donald Trump will be condemned tonight. If witnesses had been summoned, the trial could have been delayed.
At an earlier stage, the Democrats had no intention of hearing witnesses at all, but that changed by the remarks of delegate Jaime Herrera Beutler of the Republicans. She announced that Kevin McCarthy, the leader of the Republicans in the House of Representatives, had told her about a phone call he had with Donald Trump during the storm of the Capitol.
In it, McCarthy Trump asked his supporters to whistle back, said Herrera Beutler. Trump responded that not his supporters but members of Antifa stormed the Capitol. When McCarthy said he wasn‘t, and his windows were being thrown in by the stormers, Trump would have said, “Well, Kevin, I think these people are more concerned about the election than you do.”
“ The prosecutors wanted to show with the testimony that Trump did nothing to temper his situation, but that he was behind the actions of the rioters,” says correspondent Marieke de Vries.
55 senators, including five Republicans, voted to call witnesses, 45 senators were against.
Senate occupied for weeks
Donald Trump’s defense said during the trial it wasn‘t for summoning witnesses. But if we agreed to hearing witnesses, then “I certainly need a hundred statements”, says Trump’s lawyer Michael van der Veen.
Summoning so many witnesses would shut down the rest of the Senate‘s work and thus the implementation of Biden’s plans for weeks, although it was unlikely that the Senate would agree. A majority of the Senate must approve each individual witness, and the Democrats are in the Senate in the majority.
By the way, it is not expected that the Senate will condemn Trump. At least 17 Republicans have to vote with the Democrats to obtain the required two-thirds majority in the Senate.
Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Republicans in the Senate, leaked to several media today that he will vote for acquittal. “That was seen as voting advice to the rest of the Republicans,” says Marieke de Vries. “And even as pressure on the Democrats, not to call witnesses, because that would make no sense because not enough Republicans would vote in favour of a conviction.”