Surprise and confusion at the impeachment trial of Donald Trump. And double twist: while the verdict was expected this Saturday, that the former Republican was preparing to be exonerated a second time, the prosecution obtained, in the morning, the hearing of witnesses. Before giving it up, following negotiations. Even senators find it difficult to navigate. In short: the trial was likely to last several more days or weeks. But now, the verdict could still be known this Saturday.
Lindsey Graham flip flop
The prosecution had asked to hear a Republican elected member of the House of Representatives, Jaime Herrera Beutler. It was she who on Friday disclosed the contents of the phone call between Kevin McCarthy, leader of the House Republicans, and Donald Trump on January 6. While Kevin McCarthy alerted the president to the seriousness of the ongoing attack on Capitol Hill and asked him to react, Donald Trump would have sided with the rioters. “Well, Kevin, I imagine these people are angrier than you about the election,” he reportedly replied. However, Kevin McCarthy did not vote in favor of his impeachment. CNN was the first media to release the information.
Jamie Raskin, the leader of the indictment team, had asked at the opening of the fifth day of the hearing, to be able to hear it “at least an hour by Zoom”. Very quickly, Michael van der Veen, lawyer for Donald Trump, set himself up against the request, aggressively, threatening to call in turn many witnesses – “a hundred” -, which could considerably prolong the trial.
But the Senate has decided: the senators approved the principle of hearing witnesses, by 55 votes to 45. Lindsey Graham, a loyal Donald Trump, even created a surprise by asking to change his vote from “no” to “Yes”. While some senators no longer seemed to know whether they were voting for the hearing of a single witness, Jaime Herrera Beutler, or on the principle of hearing several.
Finally, a renunciation
Will there be a single witness or dozens in the end? And why should the trial be prolonged by several days, or weeks? The answer came after an hour of suspension of the trial: the two parties finally gave up hearing witnesses. The deposition of the elected Republican was finally read in session and entered into the file.
The Democratic prosecution had nothing to lose. Accused of “inciting insurgency” and being responsible for the murderous attack on Capitol Hill on January 6, Donald Trump has every chance of being acquitted, because seventeen Republican senators would have to vote with the Democrats to be found guilty. However, the account is not there.
Mitch McConnell to vote for ex-president
Mitch McConnell, the President of the Republicans in the Senate, who has distanced himself from Donald Trump and even accused him in recent weeks of having “provoked” the riots, has also informed his peers in writing that he will acquit it. According to several media, he mentions a “difficult decision” in a message to his parliamentary group. Some Republicans tempted to judge him guilty may also give up, for fear of reprisals.
So why do the Democrats finally give up hearing their witness? No one has any real interest in having hearings that are prolonged. Republicans want to quickly turn the page on an embarrassing trial. And Democrats fear he overshadows Joe Biden’s priorities and agenda.