- Jamie Raskin defended the decision to pass on calling witnesses in Trump’s second impeachment trial.
- Raskin said that the decision to forgo witnesses rested with him.
- “We could have had 5,000 witnesses, and Mitch McConnell would be making the same speech,” he said.
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Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the lead House impeachment manager for the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, defended the decision to pass on calling witnesses despite a Senate vote on Saturday that would have permitted the action.
The Senate initially passed a motion 55–45 to call witnesses, with five Republican senators crossing over to support the effort. But, after some debate, Democrats shifted course.
The effort to convict Trump for “incitement of insurrection” fell short by a 57–43 margin, but 7 GOP senators joined with all 50 Democrats in finding the former president guilty. A conviction required two-thirds of the Senate, or 67 votes.
Raskin said that the decision to forgo witnesses rested with him.
“We could have had 5,000 witnesses, and [GOP Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell would be making the same speech, because what he’s asserting is that the Senate never has jurisdiction over a former president,” he said. “The point is that no number of witnesses demonstrating that Donald Trump continued to incite the insurrectionists even after the invasion of the Capitol would convince them. They wouldn’t be convinced. They were hinging it on a matter of law.”
He added: “I made the call. So you want to blame somebody [it’s me].”
The last-minute debate over witnesses came after a CNN report from Washington state GOP Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler about a call between Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California on January 6. The Democratic managers sought to use the call to demonstrate Trump’s indifference to the chaos that unfolded that day.
Raskin said that he didn’t speak with President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, or any other official in the White House before a decision was made to enter Herrera Beutler’s statement into the record without witness depositions.
He then roundly praised the work of the Democratic prosecution team, which included Delegate Stacey Plaskett of the US Virgin Islands and Reps. Diana DeGette of Colorado, Joe Neguse of Colorado, David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Joaquin Castro of Texas, Ted Lieu of California, Eric Swalwell of California, and Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania.
“We tried this case as aggressively as we could on the law and on the facts,” he said. “We got from the president’s lawyers exactly what we wanted.”