The head Democratic Impeachment manager has requested former President Donald Trump testify at his impeachment trial next week.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the lead impeachment manager, made the request as part of the preparation for Trump’s impeachment trial. In a letter he wrote to the former president, Raskin said his refusal to testify will point to his 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 wrote in the letter to Trump.
The trial will focus on Trump’s actions that led to the Capitol riot on Jan 6. in which five people were killed.
In the aftermath, dozens of Trump supporters and white supremacists have been arrested for their roles in the incident. Trump is not required to testify at the trial.
“You have thus attempted to put critical facts at issue notwithstanding the clear and overwhelming evidence of your constitutional offense,” Raskin wrote to Trump according to The Hill. “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.”
Trump lawyers said late Thursday that he will not testify. According to CNBC, Trump’s lawyers responded to Raskin’s letter, calling the trial a “purported impeachment proceeding” and adding that it “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.”
Trump’s lawyers have written in briefs that the trial is partisan, unconstitutional, and should be dealt with quickly. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) agrees, calling the request a “political ploy.”
“I don’t think that would be in anybody’s interest,” Graham told reporters Thursday. “It’s just a nightmare for the country to do this, it’s just a political showboat move to do this,” Graham said.
In the letter, Raskin requested Trump respond to the letter by Friday. The single impeachment charge against the former president is “inciting an insurrection.”
Ten House Republicans supported the charge, but it’s highly unlikely it will find support in the Senate. The House vote to impeach Trump makes him the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice.