Democrats in the House of Representatives asked former President Donald Trump to testify under oath for his Senate impeachment trial, which begins Feb. 9. Trump’s legal team later responded that he would not be testifying.
After Democrats’ request went public, Trump senior adviser Jason Miller told Fox News, “The President will not testify in an unconstitutional proceeding.”
Lead House impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin had sent a letter to Trump in response to his legal team’s official rejection of the impeachment charge earlier this week. Raskin wrote, “In light of your disputing these factual allegations, I write to invite you to provide testimony under oath, either before or during the Senate impeachment trial, concerning your conduct on January 6, 2021. We would propose that you provide your testimony (of course including cross-examination) as early as Monday, February 8, 2021, and not later than Thursday, February 11, 2021,” in the letter reported by CNN.
Trump’s attorneys Bruce Castor and David Schoen later replied to the letter, saying, “We are in receipt of your latest public relations stunt. As you certainly know, there is no such thing as a negative inference in this unconstitutional proceeding.”
“Your letter only confirms what is known to everyone: you cannot prove your allegations against the 45th President of the United States, who is now a private citizen,” they continued.
Raskin insisted on Trump’s testimony, pointing to testimony delivered by Presidents Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton while in office, and the Supreme Court’s ruling last year that found Trump did not have immunity from investigations while in office.
“There is no doubt that you can testify in these proceedings,” Raskin wrote. “Indeed, whereas a sitting President might raise concerns about distraction from their official duties, that concern is obviously inapplicable here. We therefore anticipate your availability to testify.”
Raskin said Trump has until Friday at 5 p.m. to respond, and if Trump declines, Raskin said Democrats reserve the right to “establish at trial that your refusal to testify supports a strong adverse inference regarding your actions (and inaction) on January 6, 2021.”
Trump’s legal team had asked the Senate to acquit Trump on Tuesday because they allege attempting to remove a former president from office is a violation of the Constitution.
“The Senate of the United States lacks jurisdiction over the 45th President because he holds no public office from which he can be removed, and the Constitution limits the authority of the Senate in cases of impeachment to removal from office as the prerequisite active remedy allowed the Senate under our Constitution,” the statement said.
On January 6, a protest at the Capitol building turned violent following a speech by Trump during which he said, “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building, to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”
Since then, top Democrats have accused him of inciting an insurrection against the federal government, ultimately impeaching him in the House for the second time.
The article of impeachment alleged that the former president “engaged in high Crimes and Misdemeanors by inciting violence against the Government of the United States.”
On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed back on criticism for continuing the process, and insisted that “justice” was necessary.
“The world witnessed the incitement that the president caused to incite an insurrection against our government, against our Capitol, against members of congress with a use of force and violence,” Pelosi told reporters on Thursday. “You cannot go forward until we have justice.”