Liberals on and off Capitol Hill are up in arms after Democratic impeachment managers abandoned their effort to compel new witness testimony in the trial accusing former President TrumpDonald TrumpCapitol Police issues no confidence vote in leaders Graham’s post-election call with Georgia’s Secretary of State will be investigated: report Trump told McCarthy that rioters ‘more upset about the election than you are’: report MORE of inciting last month’s attack on the Capitol.
The progressive critics contend that Democratic prosecutors, by accepting a deal to exclude those witnesses and wrap up the trial, missed a unique opportunity to highlight Trump’s involvement in the assault, particularly his refusal to defuse the violence after it had begun.
They aren’t mincing words.
“This is retreat. White flag. Malpractice. Completely unstrategic. They just closed the door on others who may have stepped out, as @HerreraBeutler urged last night,” Adam Green, who heads the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said on Twitter, referring to Rep. Jaime Herrera BeutlerJaime Lynn Herrera BeutlerTrump told McCarthy that rioters ‘more upset about the election than you are’: report Here are the GOP lawmakers censured by Republicans for impeaching Trump Upton becomes first member of Congress to vote to impeach two presidents MORE (R-Wash.), who had called Friday for Republicans to come forward with information about Trump’s actions on Jan. 6.
“Just when we thought Dems were being bold and strategic. This is grabbing lameness out of the jaws of boldness,” he added.
Markos Moulitsas, the liberal activist founder of Daily Kos, was more blunt. “It really all boils down to this: Hey Democrats, you f—ed up,” he said.
The criticisms came after a chaotic day of debate and partisan bickering in the Senate trial, which ultimately resulted in Trump’s acquittal.
Democratic prosecutors had stunned Washington on Saturday morning when they scrapped an initial plan to rest their case and instead forced the Senate to adopt a measure allowing for new witnesses — a strategy that even Senate Democrats said they had not been warned of.
“We have social conversations, but we don’t talk strategy. So we did not know if they were going to request witnesses or not. We just didn’t,” said Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by TikTok – Dems rest their case; verdict on Trump this weekend No signs of demand for witnesses in Trump trial Biden to redirect .4M in aid to Myanmar, sanction key military figures MORE (D-Md.), adding that he supported the additional testimony.
“If the managers believe it helps their presentation to have witnesses, we should let them have witnesses,” he added.
The additional testimony was necessary, the managers argued, after the emergence of new details surrounding Trump’s refusal to intervene when the violent mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, even despite the pleas from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyTrump told McCarthy that rioters ‘more upset about the election than you are’: report Even with acquittal, GOP sees trial ending Trump’s shot at future office Conservative House Republican welcomes Clark as chief of US Chamber MORE (R-Calif.) and other GOP allies to do so.
McCarthy’s urgent request for Trump’s help had been reported last month, but Herrera Beutler provided new details this week, saying Trump had sided with the rioters over those under attack in the Capitol.
“Well Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,” Trump told McCarthy mid-attack, according to Herrera Beutler’s account. That led the impeachment managers, led by Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinTrump lawyers center defense around attacks on Democrats Democrats dismiss claims they misrepresented evidence during impeachment trial Democrats warn of ‘whataboutism’ ahead of Trump defense MORE (D-Md.), to request that she testify as part of the trial.
“Needless to say, this is an additional, critical piece of corroborating evidence further confirming the charges before you, as well as the president’s willful dereliction of duty,” Raskin said.
House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCapitol Police issues no confidence vote in leaders Senate passes bill to award Capitol Police officer Congressional Gold Medal We know how Republicans will vote — but what do they believe? MORE (D-Calif.) had signed off on the decision, according to a senior Democratic aide.
Yet after a few hours of behind-the-scenes negotiations, the sides cut a deal: They would allow Herrera Beutler’s statement to become a part of the official trial record, but no witnesses would be asked to provide new testimony in the case.
The impeachment managers quickly claimed victory, saying it was a concession that Trump’s defense team would never have made without the threat of bringing new witnesses.
“Now that Trump’s Team has conceded to bringing this uncontradicted statement into the trial record, it can be considered by Senators along with the already overwhelming evidence about President Trump’s conduct on January 6, without the need for subpoena, deposition and other testimony,” said a senior aide on the impeachment team.
The trial’s quick end means that Democrats can shift their energies back to the task of adopting the ambitious legislative agenda of President BidenJoe BidenGraham’s post-election call with Georgia’s Secretary of State will be investigated: report Overnight Defense: Pentagon, Congress appoint panel members to rename Confederate bases | Military approves 20 more coronavirus vaccination teams Lawmakers give standing ovation for Officer Eugene Goodman MORE, beginning with a massive COVID-19 stimulus bill.
But the decision to scrap new witnesses launched a firestorm of attacks from the left, as liberals blasted sour notes of disappointment that Democrats hadn’t fought harder to win Trump’s conviction.
“The fact that Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsTrump mum as Senate debates his role in inciting Capitol mob Sunday shows preview: Budget resolution clears path for .9 trillion stimulus; Senate gears up for impeachment trial In Marjorie Taylor Greene, a glimpse of the future MORE, Donald Trump, Tommy Tuberville and Kevin McCarthy will likely *never* have to testify under oath about the insurrection is an insult to justice and to history,” tweeted David Atkins, a liberal activist in California.
“Republicans would have conducted a month-long impeachment trial calling dozens of witnesses,” he added.
Some Democrats on Capitol Hill were just as angry. One Democrat familiar with the witness negotiations said Senate Democrats, led by Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSenate passes bill to award Capitol Police officer Congressional Gold Medal Trump lawyers center defense around attacks on Democrats Democratic norms aren’t safe just because Biden won MORE (N.Y.), were ready to accept whatever decision the wavering impeachment managers made on the question of calling for new testimony — a message the senators delivered to the House prosecutors.
Yet after the Senate voted to allow those new witnesses, the source said, the managers botched the next steps.
“After the vote, it was clear the managers had no plan,” said the Democratic source. “Senate Democrats gave them the votes, but the managers didn’t know what their next step was.”
The tensions might not matter in the long run. The final vote on Trump’s fate featured seven Republican senators who crossed the aisle to convict the former president, marking the most bipartisan conviction vote in the nation’s history.
That’s provided Democrats with a potent talking point heading into the 2022 cycle, when both chambers are up for grabs. And many Senate Democrats noted that the GOP opposition to Trump’s conviction was so entrenched that new witnesses would never have changed the verdict.
“I don’t think anything would have made a difference with the folks on the other side,” Sen. Raphael WarnockRaphael WarnockOssoff presses Biden’s budget nominee on HBCU funding Georgia GOP seeks to tighten voting rules after spate of losses Centrist Democrats pose major problem for progressives MORE (D-Ga.) said after Trump’s acquittal.
In the immediate aftermath of the vote, however, the Democrats’ liberal base is making sure to send party leaders an unmistakable message that they’re expecting more fight in the debates to come.
“Only Democrats can indisputably win a vote and then concede,” said Green.
Jordain Carney contributed.
Liberals howl after Democrats cave on witnesses | TheHill – The Hill