Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was outfoxed by the House impeachment managers on Saturday as they moved to allow witnesses in the impeachment trial for former president Donald Trump.
Many Senate Democrats signaled this week that they did not think that witnesses were necessary to convict Trump. The introduction of witnesses would also extend the length of the trial, providing poor optics of Democratic priorities in the middle of a pandemic and economic crisis. However, impeachment managers are seeking the testimony of those with potential insight into Trump’s mindset and conversations around the time of the Capitol riot, such as Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler and Sen. Tommy Tuberville. The Senate voted 55-45 to allow witnesses on Saturday morning, with Democrats who previously spoke out against the idea voting in favor.
Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted that Schumer was ‘blindsided’ by the House Democrats calling for witnesses at this stage, revealing that they had previously agreed to no witnesses.
‘Dems had agreed to know [sic] witnesses, then House Managers changed their mind this morning,’ Cruz claimed. ‘Schumer blindsided. Pandemonium.’
Thread: Chaos at the impeachment trial.
Dems had agreed to know witnesses, then House Managers changed their mind this morning.
Schumer blindsided. Pandemonium. They’re negotiating now to figure out next steps.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) February 13, 2021
A senior Republican Senate aide confirmed to The Spectator that Schumer did not want witnesses, but was outmaneuvered by the impeachment managers. Schumer was warned to include that there would be no witnesses in the trial’s organizing resolution, but he instead left the question open. When the House managers informed Schumer on Friday night that they wanted witnesses and Schumer tried to say no, the managers told Schumer they would move ahead anyway.
‘Schumer and Senate Dems got totally rolled this morning. Now they don’t know what to do,’ the aide told The Spectator.
CNN’s Manu Raju reported this morning that Schumer had told Senate Democrats he still did not know at the time if the impeachment managers would go for witnesses, further confirming the discord in the party over the issue.
Democratic senators said Chuck Schumer signaled to them he doesn’t know if House Dems will ask for witnesses.
“We were told just a few minutes ago we don’t know,” Ben Cardin told me. Cardin said he would be fine with witnesses but doesn’t think they’re necessary.
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 13, 2021
‘We were told just a few minutes ago we don’t know,’ Sen. Ben Cardin told Raju.
The Democrats had no choice but to vote in favor once the impeachment managers revealed they wanted witnesses, lest the infighting spill out into the open. However, just hours after the vote, Democrats announced they would not actually call any witnesses and that the trial would conclude Saturday. Schumer was apparently able to wrestle back control of his party.