Trump called on to testify under oath in Senate trial

Trump called on to testify under oath in Senate trial
President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence, is seen prayer with members of his Cabinet Tuesday, July 16, 2019, in the Cabinet Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Democratic House impeachment managers on Thursday called on former President Donald Trump to provide testimony under oath regarding his actions on January 6—the day an extremist mob backed by the then-president attacked the U.S. Capitol—and demanded an answer by 5 pm Friday.

The letter to Trump, signed by lead impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), was sent two days after the former president's new legal team said in a pretrial legal filing that a Senate impeachment trial would be unconstitutional and that Trump's comments the day in question were protected free speech.

Referencing that filing, the letter says that Trump's defense team "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," the letter to Trump says.

Impeachment managers had argued that Trump was "singularly responsible" for inciting the insurrection.

The House already impeached Trump—for a second time—January 13, a week before he left office, for citing the insurrection. Oral arguments for the Senate trial are set to begin Tuesday, February 9.

The new letter asks the former president to provide testimony either before or during the trial, between Monday, February 8, and Thursday, February 11, 2021.

In the letter, Raskin suggested that Trump—currently residing in Florida—should have no problem finding time in his schedule to provide testimony

"Indeed, whereas a sitting president might raise concerns about distraction from their official duties," wrote Raskin, "that concern is obviously inapplicable here."

Should Trump rebuff the request for testimony, the impeachment managers say "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."

Read the full letter below:

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 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.

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 President—so there is no doubt that you can testify in these proceedings. Indeed, whereas a sitting President might raise concerns 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 to your testimony.

Very truly yours,

Jamie Raskin

Lead Impeachment Manager

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