Rightio then. Let’s take stock for a moment and sum up the madness of the past few hours. This is particularly worth doing, I would say, because it all happened while most of you were asleep.

At the start of the day, we all thought the trial was on the cusp of ending, with closing arguments to be followed by a vote acquitting Donald Trump.

The prosecution surprised everyone by instead moving to call Republican Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler as a witness.

That followed Ms Herrera Beutler’s statement last night, recounting details of a confrontational phone call between Mr Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy during the riot.

“When McCarthy finally reached the president on January 6 and asked him to publicly and forcefully call off the riot, the president initially repeated the falsehood that it was Antifa that had breached the Capitol,” Ms Herrera Beutler had said.

“McCarthy refuted that and told the president that these were Trump supporters. That’s when, according to McCarthy, the president said: ‘Well Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.'”

This allegation obviously fed into the prosecution’s argument that Mr Trump did nothing to stop the violence on January 6.

The Senate held a vote on calling witnesses, which passed 55-45. The trial then halted as everyone scrambled around figuring out what would happen next.

Mr Trump’s defence team, and several Republican senators, threatened to call hundreds of their own witnesses, potentially dragging out the trial for a significant period of time.

“If they want to drag this out, we’ll drag it out. They won’t get their nominations, they won’t get anything,” said Senator Joni Ernst, for example.

This presented a dilemma for the Democrats. A drawn out trial would potentially prevent them from acting on President Joe Biden’s agenda, including confirmations of his Cabinet nominees and passage of a coronavirus relief package.

Behind the scenes – and I’m sure more details of these frenzied negotiations will emerge in time – the two sides eventually reached an agreement to admit Ms Herrera Beutler’s statement as evidence, and then move on without calling any witnesses.

The Senate then resumed at 12.30pm, local time.

“Donald John Trump, by his counsel, is prepared to stipulate that if Representative Herrera Beutler were to testify under oath, her testimony would be consistent with the statement that she issued,” defence lawyer Bruce Castor said.

The prosecution accepted, and that was that. We have since moved on to closing arguments.

Let’s be clear about what the agreement here does and does not mean. Mr Trump’s lawyers have stipulated that, if Ms Herrera Beutler testified, she would have repeated the same claims in her statement.

They have not admitted that her statement is accurate.

Hence Republican Senator Marco Rubio’s withering assessment of the farcical scenes we just witnessed: “All this drama for nothing. House managers made fools of themselves.”

And now you’re all caught up.





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