Impeachment Manager: Trial Could Have Lasted Years If Witnesses Were Called

February 14, 2021 Updated: February 14, 2021

Calling on witnesses during the impeachment trial would have dragged out the proceeding for years, according to Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) one of the Democratic impeachment managers.

The Senate voted to authorize witnesses at the trial but proceeded to acquit President Donald Trump before hearing from any. Neguse told CBS on Sunday that litigation over subpoenas for witnesses who refuse to appear could take months.

“Witnesses that are not friendly to the prosecution were not going to comply voluntarily, which means that we would be litigating subpoenas for months and potentially years,” Neguse said, adding that a subpoena issued during the first Trump impeachment trial more than a year ago is still being litigated.

The trial was largely expected to proceed to completion without witnesses, but the proceeding was thrown into disarray after the Senate voted to consider witnesses. Several Republican senators voted to consider witnesses. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) changed his vote to join them on that 55-45 vote.

The Senators made a deal to move ahead without hearing from witnesses by reading into the record a statement by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) for senators to consider as evidence. As part of the deal, Democrats dropped their planned deposition of Herrera Beutler and Republicans abandoned their threat to call their own witnesses.

The Senate voted 57-43 to acquit Trump on Saturday, 10 votes shorts of the 67 needed for conviction. The vote cleared Trump of the charge that he incited the mob that breached the Capitol on Jan. 6. Seven Republican senators voted with the Democrats to find Trump guilty: Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.)

The acquittal was nearly a foregone conclusion ahead of the trial after 45 Republicans voted to declare the proceeding unconstitutional because Trump is now a private citizen.

Trump’s attorneys argued that the charge against the president crumbled when viewed against the plain text of the transcript of his speech on the day of the Capitol breach. Trump had told supporters to make their voices heard “peacefully” and “patriotically.”

Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.

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