The Democratic congressman in charge of prosecuting former President Donald Trump in his upcoming Senate trial has informed Trump that Trump’s refusal to testify could be used as evidence of his guilt.
Lead impeachment manager Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland said in a letter to Trump that because Trump’s answer to the Democratic charges against him disputes what Democrats claim are the facts, that Trump can testify in his defense, with the Democrats getting the chance to cross-examine him.
If Trump does not testify, the letter said, “we reserve any and all rights, including the right to establish at trial that your refusal to testify supports a strong adverse influence regarding your actions (and inaction) on Jan. 6, 2021.”
Rankin echoed that comment in a statement released Thursday.
“Today, we offered President Trump the opportunity to testify about the events of January 6 and he refused to do so. Despite his lawyers’ rhetoric, any official accused of inciting armed violence against the government of the United States should welcome the chance to testify openly and honestly—that is, if the official had a defense. We will prove at trial that President Trump’s conduct was indefensible. His immediate refusal to testify speaks volumes and plainly establishes an adverse inference supporting his guilt,” Rankin said.
The attorneys for Trump, Bruce Castor and David Schoen, responded in a letter that the effort to declare Trump guilty by virtue of not engaging with the Democrats proved Democrats have no case against him.
They called the trial “unconstitutional” because Trump is no longer in the White House and labeled Raskin’s letter a “public relations stunt,” according to The New York Times.
“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,” they wrote.
Schoen last week said that Democrats have no plan to judge Trump fairly, according to Fox News.
“[T]his process is completely unconstitutional and it is a very, very dangerous road to take with respect to the First Amendment, putting at risk any passionate political speaker, which is really against everything we believe and in this country,” he said.
“I think it’s also the most ill-advised legislative action that I’ve seen in my lifetime,” he said. “It is tearing the country apart at a time when we don’t need anything like that.”
Schoen noted that Democrats senators have already made their feelings about Trump clear. And that the trial will be presided over by Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat and outspoken Trump critic.
“Can you imagine any American citizen considering it to be a trial in which the judge and jury has already announced publicly that the defendant must be convicted in this case?” Schoen said.
“Chuck Schumer, Senator Schumer, promised a fair and full trial. You can’t, when you know that the jurors and the judge are biased going in,” he said.
On Friday, Castor indicated that Trump’s defense will include comments made by congressional Democrats in support of rioters who were raging through the streets of U.S. cities last summer, according to Politico.
The article of impeachment against Trump claims he incited insurrection with his comments and actions on the day of the Capitol incursion.
“Many of them in Washington are using really the most inflammatory rhetoric possible to use. And certainly there would be no suggestion that they did anything to incite any of the actions,” Castor told Politico.
“But here, when you have the president of the United States give a speech and says that you should peacefully make your thinking known to the people in Congress, he’s all of a sudden a villain. You better be careful what you wish for,” he said.
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