Trump trial resumes after witness vote confusion

Donald Trump’s impeachment trial was thrown into confusion after Democrats tried to introduce a witness who claimed to have overheard a key phone call with the former president.

Republican congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler said she had contemporaneous notes of a call that House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy had with Mr Trump – the contents of which, she says, proves the former president did not try to stop the Capitol riots.

This contradicts the defence’s claim that the former president was horrified by the attack and moved to try to stop it immediately.

FILE - In this Oct. 23, 2020 file photo, President Donald Trump talks on a phone call with the leaders of Sudan and Israel, as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, left, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, and National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, applaud in the Oval Office of the White House, in Washington. The U.S. Embassy in Khartoum said the administration removed Sudan from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, a move that could help the Afric
Image:It is the first time in history a US president has been impeached twice. Pic: AP

Proceedings were halted for over an hour while senators worked out the next steps. Eventually, her statement was read to to the trial.

Mr Trump is charged with “incitement of insurrection” over last month’s violence when the US Capitol was stormed by his supporters as Congress was attempting to ratify the 2020 election result.

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Five people died in the chaos and its aftermath.

All this week, Democrats in the Senate have been trying to prove that the riot on 6 January was a result of incitement by Mr Trump, telling them to do it at a rally on the National Mall just hours beforehand.

The FBI has identified more than 400 suspects over the riots at the US Capitol
Image:Five people died in the chaos of the Capitol riot and its aftermath

But Mr Trump’s lawyers launched a blistering attack on the Democratic-led hearing, describing it as an “unjust, unconstitutional witch-hunt”.

They say Mr Trump was not to blame and that he had told his supporters to protest peacefully.

Three things that make the verdict crucial to all of us

Three things that make the verdict crucial to all of us

They argued his speech at the rally that preceded the Capitol riot last month was “ordinary political rhetoric” and was constitutionally protected free speech.

Prominent Republican Ted Cruz described the move to allow the new witness, as the Democrats’ “last hail Mary” and said their “anger” against Mr Trump was behind it.

He said the House Managers (Democratic “prosecutors”) have the burden of proof in an impeachment trial and they “haven’t proved the case”.

He added: “The reason you are seeing this Hail Mary is that everybody knows the outcome of this proceedings, which is that president Trump is going to be acquitted.

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‘Everybody knows’ outcome of impeachment trial – Cruz

“Those on the extreme far-left are angry right now – and today is a reflection of that anger.”

It is the first time in history that a US president has been impeached twice.

The first attempt to convict Mr Trump in January 2020, for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, saw him acquitted by a majority of 52 votes to 48 for one charge and 53-47 for the second. Only one Republican voted against him on one of the charges.

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If convicted this time round, Mr Trump would be barred from running for federal office again.

However, Democrats face a difficult task in securing a conviction.

If every senator votes, then at least 17 Republicans would need to turn against their former president to reach the required 67-vote (two-thirds) threshold for impeachment to be successful.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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