Washington, Feb 4 (efe-epa).- Former President Donald Trump on Thursday announced – via his attorneys – that he will not testify at his impeachment trial for “inciting to insurrection” the angry mob of his supporters who invaded the US Capitol on Jan. 6, calling the proceedings “unconstitutional.”
“The president will not testify in an unconstitutional proceeding,” said Trump’s spokesman Jason Miller in a statement reported by The Washington Post, after the defense team of the former president called the process a “public relations stunt” by Democrats.
Trump, who left office on Jan. 20, thus responded to a formal request from Democratic lawmaker Jamie Raskin, the head of the impeachment “managers,” to testify under oath either before or during the upcoming Senate trial that is due to start next week.
The Democratic impeachment managers say Trump was “singularly responsible” for the Capitol attack, in which five people died, including a Capitol police officer who was beaten to death by the mob.
“In a grievous betrayal of his oath of office, President Trump incited a violent mob to attack the United States Capitol,” they said.
Raskin made his request in a letter published on his Web page and sent to Trump’s attorneys two days after the ex-president’s legal team presented a series of documents to the Senate responding to the allegations made by the nine Democratic lawmakers who will be the managers of the impeachment trial.
“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,” said Raskin in his letter.
Given that the impeachment trial will begin next Tuesday, Raskin recommended that Trump provide any testimony starting next Monday and “no later than” Thursday, Feb. 11.
“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,” warned Raskin, who gave Trump until 5 pm on Friday to respond to his request.
Despite that warning, the impeachment managers do not have any independent authority to call Trump to testify if he refuses to do so.
In his letter, Raskin pointed to the fact that former President’s Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton had testified before Congress during their administrations and thus “while a sitting president might raise concerns about distractions from their official duties, that concern is obviously inapplicable here.”
But Bruce L. Castor Jr. and David Schoen, Trump’s attorneys, said in a letter to Raskin that “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 added.
This will be Trump’s second impeachment, the first one having come in early 2020 after he pressured Ukraine to investigate Biden’s son Hunter for alleged corruption.
Trump was acquitted in the earlier impeachment trial with all Republicans but one voting to exonerate him. A total of 67 votes – two-thirds of the Senate – would be required to convict the ex-president.