Raskin wrote in a letter (pdf) emailed to Trump: “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.”
Raskin suggested that Trump provide the testimony sometime between Feb. 8 and Feb. 11. The Senate trial is scheduled to start on Feb. 9.
Trump adviser Jason Miller said on Newsmax on Feb. 4 that Trump won’t testify on his own behalf.
David Schoen, one of Trump’s lawyers, told Raskin in a response letter that the request is a “public relations stunt.”
“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,” he added.
“Democrats: ‘You’re presumed guilty if you don’t testify.’ That’s not how things work in America!” the House Judiciary Committee Republicans added in a message on Twitter.
House Democrats, joined by 10 Republicans, voted to impeach Trump during the last days of his administration, alleging that the president incited an “insurrection.” The article of impeachment alleges that Trump directly instructed the mob that breached the Capitol on Jan. 6 to carry out the attack. In a trial memo, Trump’s defense team denied the allegation and argued that the trial is unconstitutional because Trump is now a private citizen.
In a speech on Jan. 6, Trump told supporters to make their voices heard peacefully. The president was also quick to condemn the violence and tell the crowd to “go home.” The crowd breached the Capitol perimeter when Trump was still giving a speech at a location 30–45 minutes walking distance away.
Raskin asked for a response to his letter by 5 p.m. on Feb. 5 and threatened that refusing to testify may be used against the former president during the trial.
“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 Democrats face an uphill battle in the Senate, where they need to convince at least 17 Republicans to vote to convict Trump. Forty-five of the 50 Senate Republicans recently voted for a resolution calling the Senate trial unconstitutional.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.