Welcome back to our live coverage of former US President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.

There was an unexpected development this morning, as the Senate voted to call witnesses. That vote followed a fresh allegation from Republican Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, who spoke publicly about a confrontational phone call during the riot between Trump and Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

For all the details on that, plus the latest news, read on.

Deal reached to avoid calling witnesses

A deal has indeed been reached between the prosecution and defence teams. Republican Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler’s statement is being admitted as evidence, which means she will no longer be called as a witness – and neither will anyone else.

“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.

So, that’s that. All that panic this morning was for nothing.

In her statement, which is now part of the evidentiary record, Ms Herrera Beutler recounted details of a phone call between Donald 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 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.'”

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6.45am: Another twist: Now there might NOT be witnesses

After all that drama, it appears there might not be witnesses after all.

Behind the scenes, the two sides have reportedly been discussing entering Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler’s statement into the official record and moving on, instead of deposing her and potentially other witnesses.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio reckons a deal has been done. So do John Thune and Democrat Joe Manchin.

Needless to say, this would be quite the backdown from the prosecution after the vote earlier today.

6.38am: Phone log provides some relief to Trump

Here’s another interesting development, and a more positive one for Trump’s defence team.

The Washington Post reports Republican Senator Mike Lee has given the prosecution and defence teams a copy of his phone’s log from January 6, which shows when he received a call from Trump.

The then-president called Lee accidentally during the riot as he was trying to reach another Republican Senator, Tommy Tuberville. Lee then handed his phone to Tuberville.

The log shows this call started at 2.26pm and lasted four minutes.

Why is this good for the defence? Because it shows the call happened after Trump sent his tweet attacking Mike Pence at 2.24pm.

Tuberville has confirmed to reporters that he told Trump the vice-president had been evacuated from the Senate chamber (that happened at 2.15pm). The log means Trump may not have known that when he sent the tweet.

Source: nzherald.co.nz

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