Senate vote to allow witnesses scuttled, impeachment closing arguments start

Senate vote to allow witnesses scuttled, impeachment closing arguments start
In this image from video, Republican senators and staff talk on the floor after a vote on the motion to allow witnesses in the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. (Senate Television via AP) (AP)

The Senate voted Saturday to call witnesses in the second impeachment of former President Donald Trump, possibly extending the timetable for reaching a verdict in the trial. They later rescinded the vote, allowing closing arguments to commence.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead impeachment manager, wanted to subpeona Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler after she said Friday night that House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy told her that Trump expressed sympathy for a riotous group of supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6 as the attack unfolded, The Washington Post reported.

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The Senate was expected to hear closing arguments and reach a verdict Saturday.

Leaders eventually considered an arrangement that would move the trial back toward a final vote, without live witnesses. A delay in the verdict would have slowed the vote on the COVID-19 relief package and other legislative priorities.

Rules for impeachment are negotiated at the start of the trial. In this instance, the agreement said if senators agree to hear witnesses, votes to hear additional testimony would be allowed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.