Former President Donald Trump will not testify in his own defense during his Senate impeachment trial, but lead House impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., revealed what he would have asked Trump if he had chosen to appear.
Raskin instead asked the questions of Trump’s attorneys as the House concluded presenting its case Thursday afternoon.
“Donald Trump last week turned down our invitation to come testify about his actions, and therefore we’ve not been able to ask him any questions directly as of this point. Therefore, during the course of their 16-hour allotted presentation we would pose these preliminary questions to his lawyers which I think are on everyone’s minds right now and which we would have asked Mr. Trump himself if he had chosen to come and testify about his actions and inactions when we invited him last week.”
Raskin then posed four questions aimed at Trump’s mindset during and after the riot.
“Why did President Trump not tell his supporters to stop the attack on the Capitol as soon as he learned of it? Why did President Trump do nothing to stop the attack for at least two hours after the attack began? As our constitutional commander-in-chief, why did he do nothing to send help to our overwhelmed and besieged law enforcement officers for at least two hours … after the attack began? On Jan. 6, why did President Trump not at any point that day condemn the violent insurrection and the insurrectionists?”
Trump did post a video message on Jan. 6 calling for the rioters to go home, but rather than condemn their behavior, he sympathized with the sentiment behind it, telling them, “We have to have peace. So go home. We love you, you’re very special.”
The following day, Trump posted another video in which he condemned the violence as a “heinous attack,” said he was “outraged” by it, and stated that the rioters “defiled the seat of American democracy.” He also said that those who broke the law “will pay.”
After asking those questions, Raskin posed one legal question to Trump’s attorneys.
“If a president did invite a violent insurrection against our government — as of course we allege and think we’ve proven in this case — but just in general, if a president incited a violent insurrection against our government, would that be a high crime and misdemeanor?” he asked. “Can we all agree at least on that?”
Trump’s legal team will have an opportunity to respond to those questions if they so choose and present their arguments in the former president’s defense on Friday. Trump attorney Bruce Castor has told Fox News that he intends to make a First Amendment argument and that the defense “will be spending a great deal of time on what it is that the president said and the context in which he said it.”
The House managers on Thursday claimed that Trump’s words were not protected by the First Amendment because of their inciteful nature, calling this argument a “completely irrelevant distraction.”
Castor also said that Trump’s team will argue that Trump did not receive due process during this impeachment.
“Due process requires an investigation — there was none — and we will point that out,” Castor said. “Can you imagine if the police were allowed to arrest somebody because we think he did it and then do their investigation? Of course not.”
Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.