Former President Donald Trump’s lawyers rejected a request from House impeachment managers for Trump to testify under oath in the trial, which is scheduled to begin on February 8.
The House voted on January 13 to charge Trump with one count of inciting the deadly January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol in actions that included a speech he gave that morning to a crowd gathered for a “Save America” rally.
The nine House Democrats serving as impeachment managers prosecuting the case against Trump in the Senate and Trump’s defense lawyers filed pre-trial briefs in the case on Tuesday.
“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,” lead impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin wrote in a Thursday letter to Trump and his defense attorneys David Schoen and Bruce L. Castor Jr.
Schoen and Castor shot down the request only a few hours later, slamming it as a “public relations stunt” and a game.
Trump adviser and spokesman Jason Miller also told reporters that the president would not testify.
In their response brief, Trump’s defense attorneys argued that holding an impeachment trial for a former president is unconstitutional and that his comments on the morning of January 6 were protected speech under the First Amendment.
“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,” Raskin wrote, adding the impeachment managers “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.”
In their own pre-trial brief, House impeachment managers argued that the insurrection would not have happened without Trump’s comments at the rally that morning and refuted the defense’s claim that a trial of a former official is unconstitutional.
“There is no ‘January Exception’ to impeachment or any other provision of the Constitution,” the impeachment managers’ brief said. “A president must answer comprehensively for his conduct in office from his first day in office through his last,” the impeachment managers wrote.