Impeachment managers forced to retract false statement, Mike Lee gets record revised

Sen. Mike Lee managed to have the impeachment trial record revised on Wednesday after a Democratic manager made an erroneous statement about him during the second day of proceedings, a report noted.

Lee, a former federal prosecutor, objected to statements made by Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who said the Utah Republican had spoken by phone to then-President Donald Trump as rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol Building Jan. 6.

In fact, Lee said, Trump had been trying to contact Sen. Tommy Tuberville, an Alabama Republican.

“Statements were attributed to me moments ago by the House impeachment managers. Statements relating to the content of conversations between a phone call involving President Trump and Sen. Tuberville were not made by me. They’re not accurate, and they’re contrary to fact. I move pursuant to Rule 16 that they be stricken from the record,” Lee said.

At first, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who is presiding over the trial instead of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, as the Constitution directs, objected to Lee’s claims. However, Lee appealed, which led Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to clarify why Leahy lodged an objection.

Lee rose to object as the lead House impeachment manager, Rep. Jaime Raskin (D-Md.), made a motion to end proceedings until Thursday, according to Politico. 

“Lee asked that a characterization of the call be stricken from the record, contending that it was inaccurate,” Politico reported, adding that the Utah Republican “objected to the portrayal of an accidental phone call from” Trump.

The then-president was reaching out to Tuberville in an attempt to garner more support for his election disputes, Politico clarified.

In an interview with the Salt Lake City-based Deseret News last month, Lee discussed the call, saying he gave the phone to Tuberville when he realized that the former president had called him in error.

“The chamber grew tense as Lee and Democratic leadership began heatedly arguing over the nature of Lee’s request and how to proceed according to Senate rules,” Politico reported.

After several moments of back-and-forth, Raskin came back to the lectern and said he would withdraw his characterization of the call. He went on to say that Cicilline’s comments about Lee were “not true” and that the Rhode Island Democrat was only reciting a media report of the call when he mentioned it. Raskin added that the anecdote wasn’t worth arguing over in any case.

“This is much ado about nothing because it’s not critical in any way to our case,” said Raskin, according to Politico.

Earlier this week in an interview with Fox News, Lee described Trump’s second impeachment trial as “ambiguous” and suggested if Democrats were serious about a conviction they would have immediately sent over the article after passing it, before the former president had left office Jan. 20.

“They didn’t send the articles of impeachment (immediately) over to the Senate, thus the trial couldn’t even begin until after he left office,” Lee said as he dismissed comments from some who point out that Trump was still in office when the House voted to impeach.

“If they had really wanted to make sure this continued, they would have sent them over immediately. They didn’t do that,” he said. 

“The interpretation they’re using, one that says it doesn’t matter when we try the president, it leaves really from a textual standpoint looking at the Constitution,” he said, “doesn’t make any distinction between someone who just left office and someone out of office for a year or two years or much longer.”

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Jon Dougherty

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