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Shortly after the Senate voted to pave the way for witnesses in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, Democratic lawmakers and the former president’s defense team reached a deal to merely enter a statement by Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler into evidence instead of having her testify under oath on her knowledge of a call between Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
The agreement effectively slammed the door on the possibility of witnesses in the trial, potentially clearing a path for a final vote on the impeachment charge on Saturday. After the deal was announced on the Senate floor, Democratic managers moved into closing arguments.
The abrupt change of course by Democrats was met with outrage by progressive observers and analysts who viewed Herrera Beutler’s potential testimony—and that of others who may have been compelled to come forward—as an opportunity to uncover additional information about Trump’s conduct on the day of the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol last month.
“Even if you’re convinced no testimony will change the minds of 40 Republicans—and I think that’s a fair assumption—leaving witnesses on the table is an incredible mistake,” tweeted HuffPost‘s Matt Fuller. “After impeachment managers presented a fantastic case, the decision to fold is what will be remembered.”
In the statement that was entered into the record, Herrera Beutler—one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump last month—said that “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.”
“McCarthy refuted that and told the president that these were Trump supporters,” Herrera Beutler said. “That’s when, according to McCarthy, the president said, ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.'”
Judd Legum of Popular Information argued that because Herrera Beutler’s statement had already been released to the public, the agreement to enter it into evidence is “objectively the same as a complete capitulation on witnesses and the Democrats should just own up to that.”
“This is retreat. White flag. Malpractice. Completely unstrategic,” added Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC). “They just closed the door on others who may have stepped out, as Herrera Beutler urged last night. Just when we thought Dems were being bold and strategic. This is grabbing lameness out of the jaws of boldness.”