President Trump is calling Nancy Pelosi’s bluff, dramatically raising the stakes of the impeachment hearings with a threat to offer testimony to House investigators.
And the ploy could work.
Trump is hijacking the hearings for a second straight week, overshadowing the Democrats’ carefully choreographed plans to methodically call witnesses to show Trump tried to bribe Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
The House speaker initially launched this latest twist, in an interview suggesting Trump should testify himself or in writing. It was said more in a condescending tone than a serious offer, and even the CBS interviewer scoffed at it.
But it was the perfect opening for Trump, who tweeted on Monday that he liked the idea and would “strongly” consider it.
As a legal strategy, Trump’s idea to give written testimony is fraught with peril. No defense attorney would ever suggest that a defendant should testify before an already-rigged jury convinced of his guilt.
But the impeachment hearings aren’t a legal proceeding — they’re a political spectacle. And Trump knows it.
The president is taking his case to the American public, most of whom aren’t paying close attention to the hearings. By testifying in writing Trump can send a signal to the American public that he has nothing to hide.
Most of Trump’s supporters believe the impeachment process is a farce anyway, an attempt by Democrats to undo the 2016 election. And a good percentage of the American public isn’t convinced that Trump should be removed from office.
Trump’s strategy should not be a huge surprise to Democrats. He’s said numerous times that what he did was simply ask Ukraine to investigate possible corruption and there wasn’t a “quid pro quo” to pressure the country to go after Biden.
So giving written testimony under oath would buttress Trump’s argument that he did nothing wrong.
The president tried a similar strategy in the Mueller collusion investigation, giving written testimony to the special counsel.
It was his way of telling his supporters that he wasn’t afraid of the investigation or Mueller and ultimately it worked.
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