“Two days ago, I gave an answer rejecting many of the factual allegations in the impeachment article,” wrote Ruskin, a Democrat from Maryland. “You have therefore tried to present the important facts on the case, regardless of clear and irrefutable evidence of your constitutional breach. In light of your objection to these factual allegations, I am writing to you to invite you to testify under oath, either before or during the Senate impeachment trial regarding your conduct on 6 January. January 2021. ‘
It was not immediately clear how Trump would respond to the request or whether he would consider testifying. Trump’s top aides have talked about not going to the House of Representatives to defend himself before his second impeachment in January, a similar tactic he also saw the first time he’s impeached.
The House speech did not threaten to summon Trump if he did not appear voluntarily, although Ruskin suggested that directors use his refusal against him, writing, “We reserve any and all rights, including the right to prove that your refusal to testify during the trial supports the strong negative conclusion about it. Related to your actions. “
Raskin declined to comment on Thursday when asked whether Trump would be called if he refused to attend.
The question of whether House directors will call for witnesses was looming over the horizon as the trial begins next week, with senators on both parties urging a speedy trial so the Senate can move forward and work on President Joe Biden’s agenda. But House directors and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi remained silent on the witness issue until Thursday’s speech.
While Trump’s testimony in the Senate trial will create a dedicated TV moment at the trial, it is unclear whether it will change the outcome of the trial. Forty-five out of 50 Republican senators voted last week in favor of rejecting the trial on the grounds that the impeachment trial of a former president is unconstitutional.
When asked Thursday whether House directors were heading towards a possible acquittal of Trump over the vote, Pelosi replied, “They don’t know that.”
“Why not just wait and let them bring their case,” Pelosi said. “If we don’t follow through, we may remove any penalty from the constitution.”
Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives last month on charges of inciting a revolt at the Capitol Building. In a preliminary memo filed on Tuesday, House impeachment directors accused Trump of “unilaterally responsible” for the deadly riots, saying Trump’s actions spreading false conspiracy theories that the election had been stolen incited his supporters to attack the Capitol and try to disrupt the peaceful transfer. Power by preventing Congress from ratifying elections.
Trump’s attorneys argued in Tuesday’s legal memo that the Senate impeachment trial was unconstitutional because Trump is no longer president, and that Trump has not incited rioters. Trump’s legal team also argued that Trump’s speech was protected under the First Amendment, while asserting that Trump’s false claims about the election could not be proven to be inaccurate.
In the speech on Thursday, Ruskin requested that Trump testify sometime between Monday and Thursday next week. The trial is due to start on Tuesday.
This story was updated with additional developments Thursday.
CNN’s Caitlan Collins contributed to this report.