[See update below.]
If you’ve been following Impeachment 2, you are probably aware that a final up-or-down vote on conviction was expected today or tomorrow. But now it appears the trial will continue into at least next week. Literally minutes ago, senators voted 54-46 to introduce the testimony of witnesses. Sens. Mitt Romney and Lindsey Graham were two of the Republicans to vote “aye.”
According to ABC News’s live coverage of the impeachment trial, House managers and the Trump defense team will now require time to depose prospective witnesses before proceeding to the next phase of the trial.
A report published second ago by Politico notes that prosecutors will seek the testimony of Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) regarding her knowledge of a phone call between the ex-president and House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy as violence escalated at the Capitol on Jan. 6:
Herrera Beutler has indicated that McCarthy related to her the details of the phone call in which Trump denied a demand to call off the rioters despite McCarthy’s pleas.
As recently as Thursday, Vox published an article titled “Why it doesn’t look like Democrats will call witnesses at Trump’s impeachment trial.” The author, House Democrats’ “moving presentation of evidence during their opening argument” might be sufficient to changes the minds of senators planning to acquit Trump. But the article, which went live at 11:02 a.m., failed to account for the compelling performance delivered by the defense team later in the day.
*UPDATE*: Er, on second thought…
After the vote, senators for the prosecution reached a compromise with their colleagues across the aisle to enter Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler’s statement into the trial record as evidence and forgo the calling of witnesses. They are thus back to Plan A and are currently making their closing arguments. The likelihood is now that they will vote on a verdict today.
So what likely changed? For one thing, there was the time frame. Setting aside time for depositions and then in-Senate testimony by witnesses threatened to prolong the trial by weeks, making the Democrats look bad. For another, Republicans would depose Nancy Pelosi to learn what she knew about the advanced plans to storm the Capitol and when she knew them.