WASHINGTON — Attorneys for former President Trump on Thursday refused a request from Democrats to testify at his impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate next week, dismissing their invitation in what they described as a “public relations stunt.” The remarks come from Trump’s attorneys, Bruce Castor and David Schoen in an open letter.
House Democrats earlier on Thursday had asked Trump to testify under oath and to take responsibility in inciting the violence that occured on Jan. 6.
The attorneys this week rejected the impeachment charge and asserted that Trump’s claims his Nov. 3 election defeat was the result of widespread fraud – which were baseless – were protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Lead House impeachment manager and Democratic lawmaker Jamie Raskin wrote in a letter to Trump and his attorney inviting the former president to provide testimony under oath.
“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.
The request from Raskin cites the words of Trump’s own attorneys, who had written in a legal brief earlier this week not only denied that Trump had incited the riot, but also claimed that he had “performed admirably in his role as president, at all times doing what he thought was in the best interests of the American people.”
The Senate impeachment trial of Trump, the first U.S. president to be impeached twice, is due to begin on Tuesday, Jan. 9.
The lawyers, and many Senate Republicans, have continued to baselessly argued that the impeachment trial is unconstitutional the former President is no longer in office, even though the House impeached while he was still president. In the past week, 45 Republicans voted in an effort to dismiss the trial based on Constitutional grounds.
Democrats say the Republicans are arguing because they can’t defend the former president and his actions, and they point to the many legal scholars who have said the trial is on firm constitutional ground.
ATR News Contributing Writer Andy Burton in Livonia, MI contributed to this report.