Trump rejects offer to testify in impeachment trial

WASHINGTON — House Democrats on Thursday asked former President Donald Trump to testify under oath either before or during his upcoming impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate.

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8:56 p.m. ET Feb. 4: Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., issued a statement suggesting that the former president should have welcomed the chance to testify before the Senate.

“Today, we offered President Trump the opportunity to testify about the events of Jan. 6 and he refused to do so,” Rankin stated. “Despite his lawyers’ rhetoric, any official accused of inciting armed violence against the government of the (U.S.) should welcome the chance to testify openly and honestly -- that is, if the official had a defense.”

Update 3:55 p.m. ET Feb. 4: In a letter shared Thursday afternoon, Trump’s attorneys signaled the former president will not testify under oath during his upcoming impeachment trial, despite a request from House Democrats.

Earlier in the day, the lead impeachment manager, Rep. Jamie Raskins, sent a letter to Trump asking for his testimony.

Trump’s attorneys, Bruce Castor and David Schoen, characterized Raskin’s letter as a “public relations stunt” and called the impeachment proceedings “unconstitutional.”

Original report: Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead impeachment manager for the upcoming trial, asked the former president to testify in a letter shared Thursday.

“You have thus attempted to put critical facts at issue notwithstanding the clear and overwhelming evidence of your constitutional offense,” Raskin, D-Md., wrote in the letter.

“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.”

>> Related: What happens if Trump is censured by the Senate?

The Senate impeachment trial begins Feb. 9.

The U.S. House of Representatives impeached Trump last month on a charge of “incitement of insurrection” after his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, while lawmakers were ratifying the 2020 presidential election win of President Joe Biden.

>> Related: All but 5 GOP senators vote against holding Trump impeachment trial

The vote made Trump the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice.

In December 2019, the House impeached Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in connection to a whistleblower complaint that surfaced concerns about comments he made to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

In a July 2019 phone call with Zelensky, Trump asked his counterpart to investigate Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, while holding up military aide for Ukraine. A Ukrainian gas company had hired Hunter Biden when his father was vice president and the Obama administration’s point man on Ukraine.

No evidence has surfaced to suggest wrongdoing by either President Biden or his son Hunter.