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Trump declines to testify in his Senate impeachment trial

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Updated: February 25, 2021

Former President Donald J. Trump will not be testifying in his Senate impeachment trial next week, his defense team said on Thursday, hours after House Democrats formally asked him to testify.

“The President will not testify in an unconstitutional proceeding,” Trump senior adviser Jason Miller told Fox News on Thursday.

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Trump’s legal team called the request by House Democrats for the former president to testify a “public stunt.”

“We are in receipt of your latest public relations stunt,” Fox News quoted Trump’s attorneys Bruce Castor and David Schoen as writing. “As you certainly know, there is no such thing as a negative interference in this unconstitutional proceeding.”

They added: “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 use of the Constitution to bring a purported impeachment proceeding is much too serious to try to play these games.”

Trump is being tried for inciting an insurrection at the United States Capitol on January 6. His trial will begin on February 9.

Earlier on Thursday, Lead Impeachment Manager Rep. Jamie Raskin sent a letter to Trump requesting that the former president provide testimony under oath, either before or during the Senate impeachment trial, about his conduct on January 6.

In the letter, Lead Manager Jamie 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,” Lead Manager Jamie Raskin continued, “I would request that you respond to this letter by no later than Friday, February 5, 2021 at 5pm.”

Read the full letter below:

Office of Jamie Raskin

Congress of the United States

8th District, Maryland

February 4, 2021

Dear President Trump,

As you are aware, the United States House of Representatives has approved an article of impeachment against you for incitement of insurrection. See H. Res. 24. The Senate trial for this article of impeachment will begin on Tuesday February 9, 2021. See S. Res. 16.

Two days ago, you filed an Answer in which you denied many factual allegation 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 offenses. 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 mutual convenient time and place.

Presidents Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton both provided testimony while in office – and the Supreme Court held just last year that you were not immune from legal process while serving as a President – so there is no doubt that you can testify in these proceedings. Indeed, whereas a sitting President might raise concern about distraction from their official duties, that concern is obviously inapplicable here. We therefore anticipate your availability to testify.

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.

I would request that you respond to this letter by no later than Friday, February 5, 2021 at 5pm. I look forward to your response and testimony.

Very truly yours,

Jamie Raskin,

Lead Impeachment Manager

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Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba covers the White House, the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions for Today News Africa in Washington D.C. Simon can be reached on simonateba@todaynewsafrica.com

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