Just days out from the second impeachment senate trial of former US president Donald Trump, tensions are running high on Capitol Hill.
Democrat leader of the House, Nancy Pelosi, displayed a certain touchiness Thursday (local time) when she abruptly cut short her weekly press conference with assembled media after shooting down questions.
Dominating the line of questioning was the Trump impeachment trial and the Democrat’s upcoming vote in the House on a resolution to remove GOP lawmaker Marjorie Taylor Greene from her committee assignments over her embrace of the QAnon conspiracy theory and other violent political rhetoric.
Just over 20 minutes in, Pelosi had seen enough when a journalist asked about a Republican threat to drag out the senate trial if Democrats called witnesses.
“As far as the impeachment trial is concerned, Senator [Lindsey] Graham said that if the Democrats call any witness, that the Republicans will be prepared to call in the FBI and ‘tell us about people who planned this attack’ and what happened with the security footprint at the Capitol. What’s your response to that?” they asked.
“Your question is a waste of time,” Ms Pelosi shot back, immediately moving on to another reporter.
Pelosi, asked about Lindsey Graham's threat to bring in the FBI to testify in Trump's impeachment trial, replies: "your question is a waste of time" and takes a different one. pic.twitter.com/Le0kZ6iTnE
— Andrew Solender (@AndrewSolender) February 4, 2021
It didn’t get much better from there.
When that reporter began asking if Pelosi was worried about setting a precedent in the vote to remove Greene from Committee assignments, they were quickly cut off.
“No. Not at all. Not at all,” Pelosi interrupted.
“If any of our members threatened the safety of other members, we’d be the first to take them off of committee.”
“That’s it,” she said, before ending the conference.
With the Trump impeachment trial to take place next week, Pelosi said it will determine whether the Senate is a body of "courage" or "cowardice”.
Democrats ask Trump to testify under oath in Senate trial
House Democrats on Thursday asked Donald Trump to testify under oath for his Senate impeachment trial, challenging the former president to explain why he and his lawyers have disputed key factual allegations at the centre of the case.
The request from House impeachment managers does not require Trump to appear — though the Senate could later subpoena him — but it does warn that any refusal to testify could be used at trial to support arguments for a conviction.
Even if Trump never testifies, the request nonetheless makes clear Democrats’ determination to present an aggressive case against him, and it challenges him to personally explain the words of his lawyers who have denied Trump’s “fight like hell” comments during his January 6 speech amount to incitement.
The Senate impeachment trial starts February 9 with the Democrats maintaining a trial is necessary to provide a final measure of accountability, despite a conviction seeming very unlikely. They are also aiming to disqualify Trump from ever seeking office again.
In the letter of request, Democratic lawmaker Jamie Raskin, one of the impeachment managers, asked that Trump provide testimony “either before or during the Senate impeachment trial”, and under cross-examination, about his conduct on the day of the Capitol riots.
While it is unlikely Trump will comply, the request seeks his testimony as early as February 8.
One add to this is: I'm not sure Trump attorneys Schoen/Castor have the ability/gravitas to talk Trump out of testifying if he decides he cannot resist the bright lights https://t.co/vvGVfralA9
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) February 4, 2021
The request from Raskin cites the words of Trump’s own attorneys, who in a legal brief earlier this week not only denied that Trump had incited the riot but also asserted that he had “performed admirably in his role as president, at all times doing what he thought was in the best interests of the American people”.
Late on Thursday (local time), Trump’s lawyers responded to the request, labelling it a “public relations stunt”.
“Your letter only confirms what is known to everyone: You cannot prove your allegations against the 45th President of the United States, who is now a private citizen,” they wrote.
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