Rep. Nadler, shown in the Senate during the impeachment trial.Associated Press

Republican senators were still smarting over the comments made by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D., N.Y.) in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, and there were indications his remarks could have alienated some GOP centrists that the Democrats need to court.

Mr. Nadler, in arguing for a Democratic amendment, charged that if Republican senators voted against allowing witnesses in the trial, they were “complicit in the president’s cover-up.”

The president’s attorney, Pat Cipollone, responded by saying Mr. Nadler owed the Senate, the president, and the American people an apology. The back-and-forth drew an admonishment from Chief Justice Roberts, who told them to remember where they were and whom they were addressing.

“I thought Chairman Nadler…when he started talking, people kind of jerked to attention because what he was saying and the way he was conducting himself, I think, was so insulting and outrageous, that it was a shock to all of us,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas).

Mr. Nadler may have offended key centrists in the Senate.

“I was offended, I took it as very offensive as one who is listening attentively and working hard to get to a fair process, I was offended,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska), whose support Democrats will need to call new evidence later in the trial.

“I was a little bit disappointed, I thought his specific remarks about why we needed the witnesses was very good, but it was a little bit more than I wanted to hear,” said Sen. Doug Jones (D., Ala.), one of a handful of moderate Democrats in the Senate who has not said how he will vote.

Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) said he thought Republicans would unite “as Democrats continue to show that this is a partisan exercise, that Adam Schiff and Nadler are calling us liars and cheats and saying we’re doing a cover-up.”

“I think it makes us less likely to give any kind of credence to their argument,” he said.

Still, Sen. Kevin Cramer (R., N.D.) shrugged at Mr. Nadler’s comments and said that he wasn’t as offended.

“Maybe I don’t have the same reverence,” he said. “I predicted he’d do exactly what he did, because it’s irresistible,” he said.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R., Utah) declined to comment on Democrats’ tactics and rhetoric. He said he still wants to hear from former National Security Adviser John Bolton and possibly other witnesses.

“I don’t really have any comment on the the process,” Mr. Romney said, adding that it wouldn’t affect his own decision making. “No, they they’ll do what they feel is best for their case and that’s what they’re right to do.”

Lead House manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), played down the controversy.

“Where you require litigants who are going at it for the entire day to go into the wee hours, you’re going to have tempers flare,” Mr. Schiff said. “That happens in every courtroom in America as well.”

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