Chaotic scenes as GOP senator Mike Lee demands evidence of Trump phone call be stricken from record

Ex-president allegedly phoned senator during riot by accident

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Thursday 11 February 2021 17:05 GMT
GOP senator hits out at 'false' evidence shown at Trump impeachment trial

A chaotic scene broke out late on Wednesday evening during the closing moments of the day's impeachment proceedings, as Republican senator Mike Lee demanded to strike evidence he believed Democrats mistakenly attributed to him during the trial.

The comments in question concerned a call former president Donald Trump accidentally made to the Utah senator while trying to reach Alabama senator Tommy Tuberville, with whom he allegedly wanted to discuss stopping the transfer of power.

The call was cited by Democratic impeachment managers as they set out Mr Trump's actions during the lethal riot on 6 January.

"What I asked was, statements were attributed to me repeatedly, as to which I have personal knowledge because I am the source, they are not true, I never made those statements, I ask that they be stricken," Mr Lee protested, as senators spoke over each other and the microphone system went in and out.

"This has nothing to do with whether or not they’re based on depositions, which they’re not. It’s simply based on the fact that I’m the witness, I’m the only witness, those statements are not true and I ask that you strike them.”

Eventually, once things calmed down, the Utah senator withdrew his objection, and Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said they would re-litigate the issue on Thursday if they had to.

As the riot raged across the Capitol on 6 January, Mr Trump and later his attorney and adviser Rudy Giuliani both mistakenly reached out to Mr Lee while trying to reach the Alabama senator and persuade him to present further dubious objections to certifying the election results. The first call got cut off when senators had to evacuate.

Read more: Follow all the latest Trump impeachment news live

The president reportedly kept lobbying Congress members to protest even after the riot subsided.

While much of the impeachment trial focused on the president's public calls for his supporters to march on the Capitol just before the mob broke out, the prosecutors also focused on his behind-the-scenes efforts to influence the election counting.

On Wednesday they played a tape of Mr Trump’s call asking Georgia’s secretary of state to find “11,780 votes, which is one more than we have”, in an attempt to flip its election results. The call is now the subject of a criminal investigation in Georgia. 

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