House impeachment manager Del. Stacey Plaskett (D-VI) defended the Democrats’ decision to cave on calling more witnesses at the Senate impeachment trial, declaring that what they really needed was “more senators with spines.”
During a chaotic final day of former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, Democrats won a vote to call additional witnesses after lead manager Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) motioned for additional testimony. In the end, both sides agreed to merely enter GOP Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler’s statement that Trump told House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) during the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection that the mob was “more upset” about the election than McCarthy was.
With Trump securing his second impeachment acquittal later that day, despite a surprising seven Republican senators joining Democrats in voting to convict, the House Democrats have taken heat for backing down over additional witnesses and testimony. During his interview with Plaskett on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, anchor Jake Tapper pressed the Virgin Islands delegate on the issue.
Playing a clip of Beutler discussing the phone call between McCarthy and Trump, Tapper noted that the call essentially revealed Trump “siding with the terrorists” as they attacked the Capitol.
“You also wanted to subpoena her notes of that call,” he added. “Ultimately Democrats did neither of those things and accepted the public statement she made. Why did you back down?”
Insisting that Democrats “didn’t back down,” Plaskett said that they got what they wanted by entering Beutler’s statement into the record. She also pointed out that witnesses in the trial would have needed to be deposed, with their statements videotaped and then played back before the Senate.
“So I know that people are feeling a lot of angst and believe that maybe if we had this, the senators would have done what we wanted,” Plaskett continued. “But, listen, we didn’t need more witnesses. We needed more senators with spines.”
The CNN anchor pushed back, wondering aloud why Plaskett felt they didn’t need more witnesses, especially considering that there were still “unanswered questions” about Trump’s actions as the deadly riot raged out of control.
“Were you being pressured by Senate Democrats because they wanted to get on with confirmations and the COVID relief bill?” Tapper further asked.
Plaskett went on to say that fighting over subpoenas to compel additional testimony could have dragged out over a period of months and even years. Furthermore, she said that the Democrats already presented “sufficient evidence” to prove that Trump incited the insurrection in an effort to retain power.
“I think that all Americans, when we rested our case, believed that we had proved our case and the nonsense that the defense put out did not dispute that,” Plaskett said. “As you heard from [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell, his closing statement was what we said, he agreed with us.”
“They all agreed,” she added. “They just decided that they wanted to give him a walk and they found a technicality that they created to do so.”
In a Senate floor speech after voting to acquit, McConnell exclaimed that Trump is “practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day” and slammed the ex-president for a “disgraceful dereliction of duty.” McConnell, however, claimed that time had passed for Congress to hold Trump accountable as he was no longer in office—something McConnell assured by delaying the start of the Senate trial.