Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., sent a letter Thursday to former President Donald Trump, inviting him to provide testimony under oath in regards to the impeachment trial that will begin in the U.S. Senate next week.
Raskin, the Democrats’ lead impeachment manager, said he was requesting Trump’s testimony in light of the response issued by the former president's lawyers to impeachment charge of "incitement of insurrection" for his role in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
“Two days ago, you filed an Answer in which you denied many factual allegations set forth in the article of impeachment,” Raskin wrote to Trump. “You have thus attempted to put critical facts at issue notwithstanding the clear and overwhelming evidence of your constitutional offense. In light of you 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.”
On Tuesday, Trump’s lawyers issued their response to the article, arguing that impeachment was not constitutional since Trump was no longer president and that his inflammatory statements at a rally that immediately preceded the storming of the Capitol by his supporters were protected by the First Amendment.
“It is denied that President Trump incited the crowd to engage in destructive behavior,” the legal team’s response stated. “It is denied that the phrase ‘If you don't fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore’ had anything to do with the action at the Capitol as it was clearly about the need to fight for election security in general, as evidence by the recording of the speech.”
Trump had exhorted his supporters to head to the Capitol to voice their displeasure with lawmakers who were set to certify the results of the 2020 election.
Raskin pressed Trump to testify no later than next Thursday.
“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,” Raskin wrote. “We would be pleased to arrange such testimony at a mutually convenient time and place.”
Noting that the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that Trump was not immune from legal proceedings while serving as president, Raskin told Trump that his refusal to testify could be read as an admission of guilt.
“If you decline this invitation, we reserve any and all rights, including 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,” Raskin said in the letter.
In response, Trump lawyers Bruce Castor and David Schoen refused Raskin’s request, calling it a “public relations stunt.”
“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,” Castor and Schoen wrote.
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