When Trump’s defense counsel tried to blame Democrats for their own inability to explain Trump’s behavior during the insurrection, Rep. Jamie Raskin shot back: Then why isn't your client testifying?
The comments arose from a question from Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy for both sides: “Even after Sen. Tuberville says he told Trump at 2:15p that Mike Pence had been evacuated, Trump tweeted that Pence lacked courage. Does this show Trump was tolerant of the intimidation of Pence?”
Trump’s lawyer, Michael Van Der Veen, responded first, saying, “We are not going to know the answer to those facts in this proceeding because the House did nothing to investigate what went on.” He later said he had “a problem with the facts in the question because I have no idea and nobody from the House has given any opportunity to have any idea.”
Raskin ripped him several good ones, most notably by pointing out that Van Der Veen’s own client could easily answer the question, but has refused to.
So, the counsel for the president keep blaming the House for not having the evidence that's within the sole possession of their client who we invited to come and testify last week. We sent a letter on February 4th. I sent it directly to President Trump, inviting him to come and to explain and fill in the gaps of what we know about what happened there. And they sent back a contemptuous response just a few hours later. I think they maybe even responded more quickly to my letter than President Trump did as a commander in chief to the invasion and the storming of the Capitol of the United States.
But in that letter, I said, you know, if you decline this invitation, we reserve all rights, including the right to establish at trial that your refusal to testify supports a strong adverse inference. What's that? Well, Justice Scalia was the great champion of it. If you don't testify in a criminal case, it can't be used against you, everybody knows that. That’s the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. But if it's a civil case and you plead the Fifth or you don't show up, then according to Justice Scalia and the rest of the Supreme Court, you can interpret every disputed fact against the defendant. That is totally available to us.
So, for example, if we say the president was missing in action for several hours and he was derelict in his duty and he deserted his duty as commander in chief and we say that as inciter in chief, he didn't call off the dogs and they say, no, he was really doing whatever he can - if you're puzzled about that, you can resolve that dispute, factual dispute, against the defendant who refuses to come to a civil proceeding. He will not spend one day in jail if you convict him. This is not a criminal proceeding. this is about preserving the republic, dear Senate, that's what this is about, setting standards of conduct for the president of the United States so this never happens to us again.
So, rather than yelling at us and screaming about how we didn't have time to get all of the facts about what your client did, bring your client up here and have him testify under oath about why he was sending out tweets denouncing the vice president of the United States while the vice president was being hunted down by a mob that wanted to hang him and was chanting, in this building, “hang Mike Pence, hang Mike Pence, traitor, traitor, traitor.”