The second day of the impeachment trial ended in procedural chaos when Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) objected to testimony that House managers misconstrued that cited him as a source of a conversation he had with former President Donald Trump during the Capitol attack.
In the final hour of the second day of the trial, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) began recounting a phone call on the evening of Jan 6 of Trump calling GOP Senators to continue going forward with the objections despite the days. Cicilline detailed a phone call of the former president mistakenly calling Lee but was trying to reach out to the newly-elected Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville from Alabama. The phone call, Cicilline began twisting the accounts that Lee told a local Utah reporter, asserting that Lee stood by as Trump asked Tuberville to continue forward with the objections of the certification
“He dialed Sen. Lee by accident, and Sen. Lee describes it that he had just ended a prayer in the Senate chamber,” Cicilline said, reading from a binder of his notes recounting the apparent phone call.
Cicilline twisted the “recount of the article” and implied that Lee “stood by” during the call and that Trump asked Tuberville to make “further objections” to the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral votes, which lawmakers, after a hectic day began to reconvene later that event to complete the joint session.
After the House impeachment managers concluded their arguments for the day, a furious Lee invoked an impeachment rule that allows Senators to raise questions during opening or closing arguments, including about the admissibility of evidence, and asked that the statements about him that was asserted by Cicilline be struck as false.
“Statements attributed to me moments ago by the impeachment managers, statements relating to the contents of the conversations between phone calls involving Trump and Sen. Tuberville, were not made by me, were not accurate,” Lee said to the House managers’ arguments.
“They are not true! They were false!” Lee added. “I ask them to be stricken.”
A confused Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the presiding officer over Trump’s impeachment trial, ruled the request as out of order. He first had to consult with the Senate parliamentarian in order to point to a rule that are specifically curated to this impeachment trial where it allows for the impeachment managers to include statements in their oral arguments that were not included in their original pretrial submissions.
Democrats attempted to vote down Lee’s motion to strike the presentation about Lee’s alleged call from Trump but abandoned it.
After a hectic commotion over whether a roll call vote had been requested, and for what purpose that would have been, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) intervened.
House managers said the information about the call to Lee and Tuberville came from “a newspaper account” and agreed to withdraw it, with the possibility of “relitigating” the matter Thursday, when the Senate convenes for the third day of Trump’s impeachment trial.
Utah’s Deseret News printed a story a day after the Capitol riots on Jan 6 that quoted Lee saying Trump misdialed him trying to reach Tuberville while the Capitol was under attack. The story does not detail any information or quotes from Lee about Trump allegedly asking Tuberville to object further to the election certification.
After a series of intense huddles on the floor, where Mr. Lee could be heard insisting that he did not make those statements, Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead impeachment manager, agreed to take back the words. But he reserved the ability to bring the issue up again and litigate it later in the trial.
“We’re going to withdraw it this evening and without any prejudice to the ability to resubmit it, if possible,” Raskin said. “We can debate it if we need it. But it’s not — this is much ado about nothing, because it’s not critical in any way to our case.”
As Raskin spoke, Lee from across the Senate chamber reminded the impeachment managers for their false evidence
“You’re not the one being cited as a witness, sir,” Lee said.