As impeachment vote nears, Republican reveals Trump’s call to Capitol by Reuters

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2/2 © Reuters. The United States Capitol Building on the third day of President Trump‘s impeachment in Washington, United States 2/2

By Richard Cowan and David Morgan WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former President Donald Trump told a senior Congressional Republican during his supporters’ deadly assault on Capitol Hill last month that the mob was “more upset” by his electoral defeat than the lawmakers, a Republican colleague said. News of the phone call came hours before Trump’s impeachment was reconvened in the Senate on Saturday, leaving the house divided to decide whether to convict him on a charge that incited insurrection. At least three Democratic senators urged House Democrats who are acting as prosecutors to call witnesses who could provide details about the call. Much of this week’s trial focused on how much Trump knew about the rioters’ actions when they swept through Congress on Jan. 6 to prevent lawmakers from certifying Democrat Joe Biden‘s victory in the November election. Herrera Beutler, one of 10 members of his party who voted last month in the House of Representatives to impeach Trump, recounted in a statement Friday night the details of a call between Trump and the top House Republican, Kevin McCarthy. “‘Well Kevin, I think these people are more upset than you are about the election,'” Beutler quoted Trump as saying. She said Trump initially denied that his supporters were involved in the attack, claiming that the mob were members of the left-wing Antifa movement, a false claim that McCarthy rejected. Trump, who left office on January 20, is the first president of the United States to be indicted twice and the first to face trial after leaving office. If convicted, the Senate could vote to bar him from running for office again. However, the conviction is considered unlikely, as at least 17 Republicans in the 100-seat chamber would have to join the 50 Democrats to find the former president guilty. Senate Top Republican Mitch McConnell will vote to acquit Trump, a source familiar with the situation said Saturday. The Senate is expected to meet at 10 a.m. (1500 GMT), and a final vote could take place on Saturday afternoon, though a call for witnesses could delay that. The trial has highlighted the extraordinary danger lawmakers faced on January 6, when Trump urged his supporters to march on Capitol Hill and “freak out” in an effort to reverse their electoral defeat. Then-Vice President Mike Pence and lawmakers had to be rushed into hiding for safety. Five people died in chaos. Trump’s words that day followed months in which he repeated false claims that Biden’s victory was the result of widespread fraud. “It‘s likely that Trump’s lawyers have an ethical obligation to clean this up,” said Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “One way to clear it up? Suspend the trial to depose McCarthy and (Republican Sen. Tommy) Tuberville under oath and get the facts.” Fellow Democrats Jeff Merkley and Ed Markey told reporters that they, too, wanted to hear from witnesses. “Trump’s call with McCarthy is another powerful evidence that Trump was on the side of the rioters attacking the Capitol,” Merkley said on Twitter. “He completely failed his oath to protect and defend our nation.” McCarthy angered Trump by saying he was responsible for the Capitol riots shortly after the violence, but then backtracked and said he did not believe Trump provoked the assault. LEGAL IN DANGER When the impeachment article made it to the Senate, only six Republicans voted with Democrats to go ahead with the trial, rejecting an argument by other Republican senators that the Constitution does not allow Congress to impeach a president who has already left the Senate. post. Security camera footage shown at the trial showed the rioters getting dangerously close to lawmakers when they were evacuated from the Senate and House. Among those targeted was Pence, who had rejected Trump’s pleas to interfere with certification procedures earlier that day. The crowd sometimes chanted “Hang Mike Pence” and had erected a gallows outside. Trump criticized Pence on Twitter for lacking “courage” shortly after Tuberville told Trump that the vice president was being evacuated for his own safety. Trump’s lawyers gave conflicting answers Friday when asked if Trump knew Pence was in danger when he posted his tweet. Several Republican senators said they still had doubts about Trump’s role. “The question is what was the intention of the president, right? Only the president could respond. And the president decided not to,” Republican Senator Bill Cassidy told reporters. He said he had not made a decision on how to vote. Trump refused to testify at the trial. MARCHING ORDERS House Democrats advocating for the conviction have argued that Trump set the stage for violence through his repeated unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. They say he summoned the mob to Washington, gave the crowd his marching orders, and did nothing to stop the violence unfolding on television. Trump’s defense attorneys have argued that Trump’s activity was permitted under constitutional protections for free speech. “I don’t know, at this point, how many minds have changed,” Sen. John Thune, the No. 2 Republican in the House, told reporters on Friday. Trump’s first impeachment, which stemmed from his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Biden, ended in an acquittal a year ago in what was then a Republican-controlled Senate. Lawmakers from both parties have said they would like to wrap up the trial quickly so they can move forward with other issues, such as confirmation votes by senior officials in the Biden administration and a $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package. .