Trump’s lawyers score minor victory blocking Democratic attempt to call witness

Former President Donald Trump’s lawyers scored a minor victory on Saturday forcing the Democratic Party prosecutors to back off calling witnesses after they had won a Senate vote to allow it.

With the agreement not to call the witness, the Senate was set to vote its verdict on the charge that Trump had incited the January 6 riot in which his supporters stormed the Capitol when Congress was in the process of tallying the electoral votes electing Joe Biden as president.

The lead prosecutor Jamie Raskin began the concluding arguments citing Republicans who were critical of Trump and accusing him of complicity in the riot. He called Trump the “insurrectionist-in-chief”.

Trump must be convicted for the safety of American democracy, he said.

Trump was likely to be acquitted after the because the Democrats may not be able to get the 67 votes, the two-thirds majority, required to for his conviction.

If the Democrats had gone ahead with calling her as witness, the Republicans would also have been able to call witness prolonging the trial and jamming up the passage of Biden’s agenda.

Raskin demanded calling as a witness Republican Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler who had claimed that Republican Party’s leader in the House of Representative, Kevin McCarthy, had told her that when he spoke to Trump about the rioters breaking into the Capitol he appeared to condone it.

The Senate agreed to call witnesses with a vote of 55-45, with some Republicans, including a Trump supporter, voting with the Democrats.

But Trump’s lawyer Michael van der Veen threatened to call 100 witnesses, including Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with likelihood of the trial stretching indefinitely – or the Democrats blocking it giving the impression that the trial was unfair.

The prosecutors, technically called House of Representative managers, backed off on the witness demand and agreed instead to just include Beutler’s statement in the record.

The Senate appeared set to hold concluding arguments and vote on the charge against Trump, but chaos ensued when it convened and Raskin asked to call his witness.

Biden has indicated that he would like the impeachment trial to end soon so that it could get on with the important task of confirming his key nominees to administration posts. Republican leaders also wanted to the trial to end quickly so they could move past Trump’s disruptive legacy.

Under pressure from the Senate Democratic leadership the prosecutors from the House withdrew their demand for witnesses and Trump’s lawyers agreed.

Republican Senator Ted Cruz told reporters that the House Democrats had asked for calling witnesses under pressure from the party’s “hard left” which was displeased with their performance.

“Far left are angry and today is a reflection of that,” he said.

He said that the Republicans would go along with calling witnesses, but warned that it would delay the COVID-19 relief programme that Biden wants to be passed as quickly as possible and Americans are waiting for.

Beutler said on Friday, “When McCarthy finally reached the president on January 6 and asked him to publicly and forcefully call off the riot, the president initially repeated the falsehood that it was Antifa that had breached the Capitol.”

The Antifa are anti-fascists made up of extreme leftists and anarchists, who have attacked government and public property, especially in Washington and Oregon states.

She said, “McCarthy refuted that and told the president that these were Trump supporters. That’s when, according to McCarthy, the president said: “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”

Trump was impeached last month by the House on a charge of inciting the riot on January 6 when some of his supporters stormed the Capitol.

The Senate began a judicial-style trial on the charge with Senators sitting as jurors.

Trump was impeached last month by the House on a charge of inciting the riot on January 6 when some of his supporters stormed the Capitol.

The Senate began a judicial-style trial on the charge with Senators sitting a witneses.

A two-thirds majority of Senators will have to vote to convict Trump in the chamber that is split 50-50. Only six Republicans appeared willing to cross the floor to convict Trump making the trial a media spectacle for the political benefit of the Democratic Party rather than an action to impose a penalty on Trump.

Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnel, has told his fellow Republicans that he would vote to acquit Trump making it unlikely that Democrats would get enough Republican senators to join them for the two-thirds majority of 67.

Even if Trump is convicted he can only be prevented from running for office in future as the main penalty of removing him from office would not apply to him as he is no longer the president.

Trump’s lawyers had wound up their defence on Friday without taking up the 16 hours over two days allowed them, mainly making the case that Trump’s statements calling the election of Joe Biden illegal because he claimed there was massive fraud and his exhortations to his supporters to protest was an exercise of his constitutional right to free speech.