On Monday, Democrats reiterated a threat to punish former President Trump for not testifying at the Senate impeachment trial.
In response to Trump’s lawyer’s 75-page trial memorandum submitted to the House impeachment managers. Democrats, all handpicked by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), wrote,
The House has invited President Trump to voluntarily testify under oath, yet President Trump immediately rejected that opportunity to tell his story. The House will establish at trial that this decision to avoid testifying supports a strong adverse inference regarding President Trump’s actions on January 6.
In response to Trump’s lawyer’s claims that Democrats rushed impeachment and the president denied the constitutional due process of law.
The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that “No person … shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Many constitutional scholars argue that the same principles should apply even though the impeachment trial is not a criminal case.
In a letter to Trump’s lawyers, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) invited Trump to testify. He made a similar threat: “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 on January 6, 2021.”
As a former law professor, Raskin is threatening to overturn centuries of progress and jurisprudence, establishing that a defendant has the right not to testify against themself. The exertion of that right does not create negative interference about his or her quilt, observed Jonathan Turley, a constitutional scholar.
The statement of House manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., this week was breathtaking. Raskin, a former law professor, declared that the decision of Trump not to testify in the Senate could be cited or used by House managers as an inference of his guilt — a statement that contradicts not just our constitutional principles but centuries of legal writing.
The statement conflicts with one of the most precious and revered principles in American law that a refusal to testify should not be used against an accused party.
Central to this right is the added protection that the silence of an accused cannot be used against him in the way suggested by Raskin. There was a time when members of Congress not only respected this rule but fought to amplify it.
The Supreme Court has been adamant that the type of inference sought by Raskin is abhorrent and abusive in courts of law.
The trial starts with four hours of arguments about the constitutionality of the trial, followed by a vote. Each side will have 16 hours for opening arguments.