The request from the House’s impeachment managers comes just five days before Trump is set to be put on trial on a charge of inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, which left five people dead.
Raskin specifically asked that Trump testify sometime next week, between Monday and Thursday. The trial is slated to begin on Tuesday and is expected to last around one week.
Bruce Castor and David Schoen, Trump’s lawyers for the trial, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Trump is not likely to accept the House managers’ invitation. If he declines, Raskin wrote, “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 (and inaction) on January 6, 2021.”
A senior aide on the House impeachment team said the request for Trump’s testimony came in response to claims by Castor and Schoen earlier this week that the former president never “intended to interfere with the counting of Electoral votes” on Jan. 6, and never “made any effort to subvert the certification of the results of the 2020 presidential election.”
Trump for weeks lodged unsubstantiated claims about widespread voter fraud in swing states where Biden won, culminating in his speech to supporters the morning of Jan. 6, when he urged them to “fight like hell.”
The House impeachment managers have remained tight-lipped about their plans for potential witness testimony as part of the trial, while many Senate Democrats have suggested in recent weeks that witnesses are not necessary in order to prove that Trump deserves to be convicted.
But conviction, which requires the support of two-thirds of the chamber, will be a tough sell for the impeachment managers, especially after 45 GOP senators voted last week to declare that putting a former president on trial is unconstitutional.
But Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats have said repeatedly that they do not consider Trump’s acquittal to be guaranteed, as they continue to apply pressure on Senate Republicans.
“They don’t know that. They haven’t heard the case,” Pelosi told reporters Thursday when asked about Trump’s likely fate. “We’ll see if it’s going to be a Senate of cowards or courage.”
Pelosi also firmly rejected arguments from some observers, who have asked why Democrats should bother with a trial after Trump is already gone from office.
“‘Why bother?’ Ask our founders why bother,” Pelosi told reporters. “We cannot go forward until we have justice.”
The group of Democratic managers — handpicked by Pelosi to make the case against Trump — have been meeting almost daily for weeks to hone their arguments. Those Democrats have been notably silent on the case they plan to present, aside from an initial pre-trial filing earlier this week.
Pelosi herself deflected questions about witnesses earlier Thursday, telling reporters: “The world were witnesses to this, so we’ll see. I have no idea how our managers will proceed.”
In its filing earlier this. week, the House managers said Trump bears “unmistakable” responsibility for the violent attack on the Capitol, which came while lawmakers were voting to certify Biden’s victory in the Electoral College.
“President Trump’s pursuit of power at all costs is a betrayal of historic proportions,” the managers wrote. “It requires his conviction.”