A Republican congresswoman intervened in the last hours of Donald Trump’s impeachment trial to plead with ‘patriots’ who were around him on January 6 to go public on his actions.
Jaime Herrera Beutler, who voted for Trump’s impeachment, made the plea with hours before a likely vote on Trump’s fate after revealing how he had rejected GOP minority leader Kevin McCarthy’s plea to call off the mob.
‘To the patriots who were standing next to the former president as these conversations were happening, or even to the former vice president: if you have something to add here, now would be the time,’ she said.
Her dramatic revelation of the call was seized on by one Democratic senator as a reason to demand witnesses.
‘When McCarthy finally reached the president on January 6 and asked him to publicly and forcefully call off the riot, the president initially repeated the falsehood that it was antifa that had breached the Capitol,’ Herrera Beutler recounted.
‘To the patriots who were standing next to the former president as these conversations were happening, or even to the former vice president: if you have something to add here, now would be the time,’ Jaime Herrera Beutler said.
Not Antifa: Trump tried to claim that the hundreds of violent supporters who stormed into the Capitol were not his – prompting a furious response from Kevin McCarthy
F-word call: Kevin McCarthy pleaded with Donald Trump to call off his mob on January 6, and when Trump said ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,’ responded: ‘Who the f**k do you think you’re speaking to?’
CNN’s blockbuster report about the McCarthy call comes after Trump’s lawyers laid out their case in the Senate impeachment trial. Trump’s lawyers denied he knew people, like Vice President Mike Pence, were in harm’s way
‘McCarthy refuted that and told the president that these were Trump supporters. That’s when, according to McCarthy, the president said: ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.’
Other sources told CNN that McCarthy replied to Trump: ‘Who the f**k do you think you are talking to?’ and that McCarthy had phoned Trump because the MAGA mob were smashing the windows in his office.
Herrera Beutler’s account of McCarthy’s call was also publicly supported by Republicans congressman Anthony Gonzalez, who also voted for impeachment.
Herrera Butler also said that her account should not come as a surprise – and that she had told people in her Washington State district.
‘Since I publicly announced my decision to vote for impeachment, I have shared these details in countless conversations with constituents and colleagues, and multiple times through the media and other public forums,’ she said in a statement.
‘I told it to the Daily News of Longview on January 17. I’ve shared it with local county Republican executive board members, as well as other constituents who ask me to explain my vote. I shared it with thousands of residents on my telephone town hall on February 8.’
Her account came after Alabama Republican senator Tommy Tuberville was branded a liar by Trump’s defense team for saying he told Trump just after 2pm: ‘Mr. President, they’ve taken the vice president out. They want me to get off the phone, I gotta go.’
During Friday’s impeachment trial, Trump’s lawyers tried to deny the president even knew that individuals like Pence were in peril.
‘The answer is no. At no point was the president informed the vice president was in any danger,’ Trump’s attorney Bruce Castor said, despite Tuberville’s remarks.
Tuberville robustly stood by his account – prompting Democratic senator Sheldon Whitehouse, of Rhode Island, to say that the trial should be halted to depose both Tuberville and McCarthy. Whitehouse said that Trump’s attorneys were ‘under ethics obligation’ to clear up the record about what Trump knew on the day of the riot.
‘You don’t get as counsel to make misrepresentations; if you do, you have an affirmative duty to clean it up,’ wrote Whitehouse.
‘Tomorrow just got a lot more interesting,’ Whitehouse wrote. ‘What did Trump know, and when did he know it? One way to clear it up? Suspend trial to depose McCarthy and Tuberville under oath and get facts. Ask Secret Service to produce for review comms back to White House re VP Pence safety during siege.’
Democrat Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont is presiding over the trial as president pro tempore of the Senate, after Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts declined to participate.
Senate procedures do not place a time limit on impeachment trials, and the presiding officer of the trial has the power to direct the proceedings and rule on all questions of evidence.
A move to depose witnesses needs the approval of 51 senators.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat and one of the 100 jurors in the impeachment trial, issued the call to suspend the proceedings in a tweet late on Friday, one day before the trial was expected to conclude in an acquittal
Senator Tuberville of Alabama said he told Trump that VP Mike Pence was being evacuated from the Senate
There may be other people to speak to, if Herrera Beutler’s plea for people to come forward yields fruit. Some have already spoken anonymously: CNN’s sources were Republican members of Congress, who believed that the contents of the call prove that Trump had no interest in calling off the deadly riot.
‘He is not a blameless observer, he was rooting for them,’ one GOP unnamed lawmaker said. ‘On January 13, Kevin McCarthy said on the floor of the House that the President bears responsibility and he does.’
‘This proves that the president knew very early on – what the mob was doing, and he knew members were at risk and he refused to act … it’s a violation of his oath of office to fail to come to this defense of Congress and the constitutional process immediately,’ another GOP member familiar with the call told CNN.
Meanwhile, Tuberville’s conversation with Trump is of interest to Democrats because Trump sent a tweet at 2.24pm on January 6 saying that Pence didn’t have ‘the courage’ to challenge the election results.
If Tuberville’s account is correct, then Trump would likely have known before sending the tweet that Pence had been evacuated and was in danger. At the time, the rioters had already broken into the Capitol, some of them calling for Pence’s death.
After Friday’s proceedings, Tuberville, an Alabama Republican, stood by his account, paraphrasing his January 6 phone conversation with Trump.
‘Mr. President, they’ve taken the vice president out. They want me to get off the phone, I gotta go,’ Tuberville recalled telling Trump during the Capitol attack.
The Senate had been scheduled to hear closing arguments in the trial on Saturday, and was also expected to vote on conviction or acquittal — but Whitehouse’s proposal raised the possibility of a delay.
However, his proposal to depose McCarthy and Tuberville drew scorn from Republican strategist Matt Whitlock, who said it was too late in the process to depose new witnesses.
‘This is exactly what the House was supposed to do before it got to a Senate trial,’ Whitlock tweeted. ‘You don’t suspend an impeachment trial to go back and redo the House’s job and investigate and collect sworn testimony. Compare to the first impeachment where they spent months building a case.’
THE IMPEACHMENT LEGAL TEAMS
THE HOUSE IMPEACHMENT MANAGERS
Who’s who in the prosecution (from left): Jamie Raskin, David Cicilline, Joaquin Castro, Diana DeGette, Rep. Eric Swalwell, Stacey Plaskett, Joe Neguse
Lead impeachment manager: Jamie Raskin. Constitutional law professor who lectured at American University, in Washington D.C., before moving into politics as a Maryland state senator then House member. Fierce critic of Trump who called for his impeachment after the Mueller report.
David Cicilline: One-time public defender and mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, which is now in his district. Lead author of the article of impeachment.
Joaquin Castro: Texas rep whose twin brother Julian ran for president. Lawyer and member of Texas Legislature before joining Congress.
Diana DeGette: Longest-serving member of Congress in the team with 13 terms for her Colorado district. A civil rights attorney before she went into public office.
Eric Swalwell: California prosecutor turned rep who is the only member of the impeachment managers who was also involved in the first trial. Target of Republican ire for his admitted relationship with a Chinese spy called Fang Fang which he ended when the FBI warned him she was a spy
Stacey Plaskett: Represents the Virgin Islands and therefore has no vote but was an assistant district attorney in the Bronx before entering Congress.
Joe Neguse: Private practice lawyer who is now a two-term Colorado congressman.
Ted Lieu (not in photo): Former Air Force officer who is a reserve colonel in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. The California rep is another bitter public critic of Trump.
Madeleine Dean (not in photo): Pennsylvania attorney turned English professor and member of its house of representatives whose Pennsylvania district is also home of Bruce Castor, one of Trump’s defense team.
David Schoen: Alabama-based criminal defense attorney who has previously represented Roger Stone, and met with Jeffrey Epstein just before his death – then suggested he did not believe it was suicide. Observant Jewish attorney said he would not work on the Sabbath, leading to impeachment trial being scheduled not to sit from 5pm on Friday, but later said he was not needed that day, allowing it to go on.
Bruce Castor: Castor was Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, district attorney when he decided not to prosecute Bill Cosby on rape charges which his successor went ahead with, leading to the comedian being convicted and imprisoned. Castor settled a defamation case with victim Andrea Costand. Later became acting attorney general of Pennsylvania, and is now in private practice.
Michael van der Veen: Added to the roster of attorneys on the eve of the trial. Philadelphia personal injury attorney who is close to Castor – Castor joined his firm in December – and has also been a criminal defense attorney. A former client said he called Trump a ‘f***ing crook’ in summer 2020.
William Brennan: Veteran Philadelphia criminal defense attorney who appears to have joined on the first day of the trial. Has represented pro-Trump figures but also a college student charged with trying to steal Trump’s tax returns.