How House Impeachment Managers Caught Senate Dems, White House Off Guard

Posted: Feb 13, 2021 4:35 PM
How House Impeachment Managers Caught Senate Dems, White House Off Guard

Source: AP Photo/Susan Walsh

House impeachment lead Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD) on Saturday pushed for the Senate to call for witnesses. He said it was important to hear from Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA). 

Raskin pointed to breaking news that occurred late Friday night. Attention was called to Herrera Beutler's conversation with McCarthy, where the minority leader allegedly recounted a conversation he had with President Trump. According to Herrera Beutler, McCarthy allegedly told Trump to "call off" the riots at the Capitol. The president allegedly said it wasn't his supporters who caused the chaos and violence at the Capitol.

The Senate voted 55 to 45 to hear from witnesses, including Herrera Beutler. Following the vote, the Senate took a short one-hour break. During that time, a deal was struck. No witnesses would be called and Herrera Beutler's statement would be entered into evidence. 

It was rumored that the White House put in a call, asking for there to be no witnesses. A Biden administration official said that wasn't the case. 

But now it looks as though both President Joe Biden and Senate Democrats were "blindsided" by Raskin's request. And it's why they had no active plan on how to move forward.


While Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and his members had prepared for the possibility of voting on witnesses, they got no warning that the lead House prosecutor was about to force a vote that could have prolonged the trial for days or weeks. The impeachment managers spent Friday night and Saturday morning wrestling with the question themselves, according to Democratic sources.

The managers debated until 3 a.m. Saturday on how to proceed, according to two Democrats familiar with the negotiations. Schumer communicated to them that his 50-member caucus would support whatever decision they landed on.

Then Senate Democrats held a 9 a.m. Saturday conference call where members still indicated they were in the dark about House Democratic managers’ plans. The managers didn’t make the final call to force a Senate vote until minutes before the Senate gaveled in at 10 a.m., Democrats said. The managers started informing senators they wanted witnesses at 9:55 a.m.

“We don’t coordinate with the managers,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), adding that Democratic senators "have social conversations" with their House counterparts but "don’t talk strategy. So we did not know that they were going to request witnesses or not. And that’s how it should have been.”

Summing up the position Democratic senators decided on, Cardin said: “If the managers believe it would help their presentation, we should let them have witnesses.”

The Senate is expected to make their final vote on the article of impeachment against President Trump for "inciting an insurrection."