In anticipation of a Senate impeachment trial that is almost certain to result in an acquittal, some Democrats seem intent to settle for embarrassing former President Donald Trump on national television.
As the New York Post reported, Trump has made it clear that he wants no part of a political “stunt,” turning down a demand that he testifies in front of the cameras during next week’s proceedings.
“Your latest public relations stunt”
U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) sent the former president a letter ordering him to appear no later than Feb. 11, warning that a failure to show up would be considered a tacit admission of guilt.
“If you decline the 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,” he wrote, referring to last month’s deadly riot on Capitol Hill.
Trump’s attorneys reacted with a terse statement of their own.
“We are in receipt of your latest public relations stunt,” wrote lawyers Bruce Castor and David Schoen, accusing Raskin of playing “games” by falsely linking Trump’s silence to evidence of guilt, according to the Post.
The letter indicated that “there is no such thing as a negative inference in this unconstitutional proceeding,” arguing that the latest effort further undermines the entire Senate trial.
“That concern is obviously inapplicable”
“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 attorneys wrote. “The use of our Constitution to bring a purported impeachment proceeding is much too serious to try to play these games.”
Democrats, along with a handful of Republicans, have insisted that Trump must be barred from seeking future federal office by pursuing an article of impeachment accusing him of inciting an “insurrection” at the Capitol.
While Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and others have used the fact that Trump is no longer president as an argument against impeachment, Raskin cited it as apparent evidence that his availability should no longer be an issue.
“Indeed, whereas a sitting President might raise concerns about distraction from their official duties, that concern is obviously inapplicable here,” the House Democrat wrote, according to the Post. “We therefore anticipate your availability to testify.”
Trump’s legal team reportedly plans to hinge his defense on this point, writing in a brief that the Senate “lacks jurisdiction over the 45th President because he holds no public office from which he can be removed.”