House Democrats acting as managers during the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump after the trial defended not calling observers after the Senate voted to allow them to call witnesses.
Del. Stacey Plaskett (D-Virgin Islands) said the managers presented testimony from witnesses during arguments in the trial, even if they didn’t call people to testify.
“There is no other additional witnesses that were friendly to us that were not there on the screen,” she said.
Democrats presented body camera footage from U.S. Capitol Police officers, statements from Trump, and other evidence during the trial.
“Others who we would have liked to have called, like the president, who we invited, is in fact the defendant and does not have to testify,” Plaskett added. “Other individuals who may have been there with the president were not friendly witnesses to us, and would have required subpoenas and months of litigation.”
Many Republicans, including Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), voted previously to call the trial unconstitutional because Trump is now a private citizen. That was the main reasoning that 43 of them used in explaining their not guilty votes.
“We could have had 5,000 witnesses, and Mitch McConnell would be making the same speech, because what he’s asserting is that the Senate never has jurisdiction over a former president,” lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) told reporters.
“The point is that no number of witnesses demonstrating that Donald Trump continued to incite the insurrectionists even after the invasion of the capital would convince them. They wouldn’t be convinced. They were hinging it on a matter of law,” he said.
Raskin said he personally made the call not to follow through after the Senate voted 55-45 to allow witnesses. He said he did not consult with anyone from the White House before making the decision.
“Look, if we had needed any witnesses to make our case, then we would have gone all the way and insisted on witnesses and a six-week trial or an eight-week trial, or whatever. We didn’t, we overwhelmingly proved our case,” he alleged.
The House of Representatives heard from zero witnesses before voting Jan. 13 to impeach Trump while he was still in office. The body impeached the president one week after the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol. Critics said Trump incited the incident.
Following the witness vote, impeachment managers, the Senate, and Trump’s impeachment defense team reached a deal to not call any witnesses but to insert a statement from Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) regarding a phone call Trump is said to have made to Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Jan. 6 into the record as witness evidence.
The trial then moved to closing arguments and the vote, culminating with Trump’s acquittal.
Michael van der Veen, part of Trump’s legal team, said on Fox News that Democrats launched the surprise attack using Beutler because their core arguments were rebutted successfully.
“Nothing really surprised me,” he said. “What had happened was the day before, we demolished their case, and they were like a dying animal that we had trapped in the corner. And so, this morning, their last gaps would be swinging out at us trying to save their case, and it didn’t work. So we were kind of expecting them pulling something.”
“It is somewhat confusing to us that, if this conversation was of such great import, why was it only brought to our attention today? And it formed the basis of most of the closing that the House managers made,” Bruce Castor, another Trump lawyer, told reporters on Capitol Hill.
“If this is the centerpiece of their case, it should have been front and center from the beginning. I kind of think that yesterday their case was destroyed. They needed to throw a Hail Mary pass, and it fell in the endzone without being caught.”