House impeachment managers ask Trump to testify, his lawyers call it ‘public relations stunt’
House impeachment managers asked former US president Donald Trump on Thursday to testify during the Senate impeachment trial about his conduct on January 6
House impeachment managers asked former US president Donald Trump on Thursday to testify during the Senate impeachment trial about his conduct on January 6. The move was immediately described as a "public relations stunt" by his lawyers.
In a letter, lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin requested Trump to provide testimony under oath, either before or during the Senate impeachment trial, about his conduct on January 6.
The letter comes after Trump's legal team filed an answer to the Article of Impeachment, denying incontrovertible facts about the president's conduct on and leading up to January 6 and asserting that "...the 45th president of the United States performed admirably in his role as president, at all times doing what he thought was in the best interests of the American people".
Trump's lawyers Bruce L Castor and David I Dchoen were quick to decline the ask. "We are in receipt of your latest public relations stunt," they wrote. "As you know, there is no such thing as a negative inference in this unconstitutional proceeding," they said.
"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," the letter continued. "The use of our Constitution to bring a purported impeachment proceeding is much too serious to play these games," it said.
In his letter to Trump, Raskin wrote, "Two days ago, you filed an answer, in which you denied many factual allegations set forth in the article of impeachment. You have thus attempted to put critical facts at issue notwithstanding the clear and overwhelming evidence of your constitutional offense.
"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. We would be pleased to arrange such testimony at a mutually convenient time and place."
"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," he said.
In a statement, Jason Miller, a senior adviser to the former president, said Trump would not participate. "The president will not testify in an unconstitutional proceeding," he said.
Reacting to Miller's statement, Raskin said, "Today, we offered President Trump the opportunity to testify about the events of January 6 and he refused to do so. Despite his lawyers' rhetoric, any official accused of inciting armed violence against the government of the United States should welcome the chance to testify openly and honestly -- that is, if the official had a defence. We will prove at the trial that President Trump's conduct was indefensible. His immediate refusal to testify speaks volumes and plainly establishes an adverse inference supporting his guilt."