Donald Trump acquitted in second impeachment trial

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 6:06 PM ET, Sat February 13, 2021
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11:29 a.m. ET, February 13, 2021

House managers want to call this GOP witness. Here's why.

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Republican from Washington, speaks during a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in June 2020.
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Republican from Washington, speaks during a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in June 2020. Al Drago/Pool/Getty Images

At the start of today's trial, impeachment manager Jamie Raskin announced that House managers were seeking to subpoena Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler. Here's why:

Herrera Beutler, a Republican from Washington state, revealed details about an expletive-laced phone conversation between House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy and former President Trump on Jan. 6 – as the Capitol riot was underway. In the call Trump is reported to have said the rioters cared more about the election results than McCarthy did.

"Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are," Trump said, according to lawmakers who were briefed on the call afterward by McCarthy.

McCarthy insisted that the rioters were Trump's supporters and begged Trump to call them off.

Trump's comment set off what Republican lawmakers familiar with the call described as a shouting match between the two men. A furious McCarthy told the then-President the rioters were breaking into his office through the windows, and asked Trump, "Who the f--k do you think you are talking to?" according to a Republican lawmaker familiar with the call.

The newly revealed details of the call, described to CNN by multiple Republicans briefed on it, provide critical insight into the President's state of mind as rioters were overrunning the Capitol. The existence of the call and some of its details were first reported by Punchbowl News and discussed publicly by McCarthy.

The Republican members of Congress said the exchange showed Trump had no intention of calling off the rioters even as lawmakers were pleading with him to intervene. Several said it amounted to a dereliction of his presidential duty.

"He is not a blameless observer, he was rooting for them," a Republican member of Congress said. "On January 13, Kevin McCarthy said on the floor of the House that the President bears responsibility and he does."

Speaking to the President from inside the besieged Capitol, McCarthy pressed Trump to call off his supporters and engaged in a heated disagreement about who comprised the crowd.

Beutler mentioned the conversation in a town hall earlier this week, and it was confirmed to CNN again last night by Herrera Beutler and other Republicans briefed on the conversation.

"You have to look at what he did during the insurrection to confirm where his mind was at," Herrera Beutler, one of 10 House Republicans who voted last month to impeach Trump, told CNN. "That line right there demonstrates to me that either he didn't care, which is impeachable, because you cannot allow an attack on your soil, or he wanted it to happen and was OK with it, which makes me so angry."

"We should never stand for that, for any reason, under any party flag," she added, voicing her extreme frustration: "I'm trying really hard not to say the F-word."

Herrera Beutler went a step further on Friday night, calling on others to speak up about any other details they might know regarding conversations Trump and Pence had on Jan. 6.

11:24 a.m. ET, February 13, 2021

Here's what we know — and what we don't know — about the Senate's vote to call witnesses

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Moments ago, the Senate voted to call witnesses in former President Trump's second impeachment trial.

Following the vote, there appeared to be some confusion on the Senate floor about the move, with one senator even asking what exactly they just voted on.

If you're just getting read in, here's what you need to know:

  • House managers asked for witnesses: At the start of today's trial, Rep. Jamie Raskin announced that House managers were seeking to subpoena Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a House Republican who first revealed a conversation between House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy and Trump in which the former President said the rioters cared more about the election results than McCarthy did.
  • How Trump's lawyers reacted: After Raskin announced Democrats would seek witnesses, Trump's lawyer Michael van der Veen responded that if Democrats were going to ask for witnesses, Trump's team was going to need 100 depositions, saying he had to conduct a thorough investigation into what happened during the riots. He listed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris among those he’d seek to call.
  • The vote was bipartisan: The vote was 55 to 45, with five Republicans joining Democrats in voting to allow witnesses. GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham initially voted no, but changed his vote to yes, meaning he changed his vote to allow witnesses. 
  • What happens next: There needs to be another vote on a simple majority basis to subpoena specific witnesses, such as Herrera Beutler or anyone else. If they vote to subpoena a witness, then the trial will slow down dramatically. They may need to recess and find a time to depose them. 

We're still not exactly sure how many witnesses could be subpoenaed. It's also unclear what this means for the timeline of the trial. Before this vote, the Senate had been poised to vote to either convict or acquit Trump as early as this afternoon.

11:07 a.m. ET, February 13, 2021

There's some confusion on the Senate floor after the vote to call witnesses

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

“There clearly is confusion among senators” right now, according to CNN correspondent Jeff Zeleny, as the lawmakers take a quorum after the Senate voted to call witnesses in former President Trump’s second impeachment trial.

Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska at one point asked what exactly the vote was on — if it was on one witness or calling all witnesses — and Sen. Patrick Leahy, who is presiding, said he was not allowing for debate on the Senate floor. 

“So we don't know what kind of a door this has opened in terms of how many witnesses. We heard [Rep.] Jamie Raskin, the House impeachment manager, saying that he would do a Zoom deposition, but that, of course, would have to be agreed upon, both sides would [have to] agree,” Zeleny said. 

Watch:

11:02 a.m. ET, February 13, 2021

The Senate just voted to call witnesses. Here's what happens next.

From CNN's Manu Raju and Ted Barrett 

Senate TV
Senate TV

The Senate just agreed to allow motions for specific witnesses. Here's what happens now:

  1. There needs to be another vote on a simple majority basis to subpoena specific witnesses, such as GOP Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler — who the Democrats specifically said they'd like to subpoena — or anyone else. 
  2. If they vote to subpoena a witness, then the trial will slow down dramatically. They may need to recess and find a time to depose them. 
  3. Then after the deposition, the chamber would need to set new guidelines on what to do to with the testimony that derives from the witness.
10:52 a.m. ET, February 13, 2021

Trump's team surprised by turn of events this morning

From CNN's Pamela Brown and Kaitlan Collins

People on former President Trump’s impeachment team are surprised by the turn of events this morning. Some who have been helping the team had been making travel plans to leave on Monday, according to a source familiar.

As of 9 a.m. ET this morning the team was under the impression there would be no witnesses. Now, the source groaned “it will never end.” 

Another source confirmed they're shocked by this development. While they had floated having a list of witnesses, they hadn't prepared a real list, the source said. They're huddling now on the phone with other aides about how to proceed. 

10:56 a.m. ET, February 13, 2021

Senate votes to call witnesses in impeachment trial

Senate TV
Senate TV

A majority of senators have voted to call witnesses in the second impeachment trial of former President Trump.

The vote was 55 to 45. Five Republicans voted alongside Democrats to pass the motion.

They were Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney Ben Sasse and Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Graham, a Republican from South Carolina and staunch Trump ally, changed his vote to "aye" at the last minute – presumably to support Trump's lawyers also calling witnesses in addition to the impeachment managers' request.

The Senate was poised to vote Saturday on whether to convict Trump for inciting the insurrection at the US Capitol last month, but the Democrats' desire for witnesses means the trial is likely to extend beyond Saturday, though senators must vote to approve any witnesses or subpoenas.

Watch:

10:47 a.m. ET, February 13, 2021

Sen. Graham switches vote to support calling witnesses

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Jabin Botsford/Pool/Getty Images
Jabin Botsford/Pool/Getty Images

South Carolina Republican and staunch Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham changed his vote to "aye" in favor of calling witnesses during former President Trump's impeachment trial.

Five Republicans, including Graham, voted in favor of calling witnesses.

Watch:

10:29 a.m. ET, February 13, 2021

The Senate is voting on whether to call witnesses

Seators are now voting on if witnesses should be called in the second impeachment trial of former President Trump.

Lead impeach manager Jamie Raskin moments ago announced that they'd like to subpoena at lest one witness: Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a House Republican who first revealed a conversation between House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy and Trump, where the former President said the rioters cared more about the election results than McCarthy did.

10:38 a.m. ET, February 13, 2021

Trump defense attorney said he would need "at least over 100 depositions" if witnesses are called

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

After House managers said they would like to seek witnesses at former President Trump’s second impeachment trial, Trump’s defense attorney said he’s “going to need at least over 100 depositions, not just one.”

The House impeachment managers are seeking to subpoena Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Republican from Washington state, after she described a call that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had with Trump on the day of the riot. In that call Trump reportedly said the rioters cared more about the election results than McCarthy did and refused to act.

“After what happened here in this chamber yesterday, the House managers realized they did not investigate this case before bringing the impeachment, they did not give the proper consideration and work, they didn't put the work in that was necessary to impeach the former president,” Trump’s defense attorney Michael van der Veen said. 

“But if they want to have witnesses, I'm going to need at least over 100 depositions, not just one. The real issue is incitement,” van der Veen said. 

“Do not handcuff me by limiting the number of witnesses that I can have,” he added.

Van der Veen said the case should be closed out today.

“Don't, please, in all fairness and in all due process, do not limit my ability to discover, discover, discover the truth. That would be another sham and that's the president's position, my position,” van der Veen said. 

Watch: