The House Select Committee on the Capitol Insurgency began hearings on Tuesday, with four police officers giving emotional testimony about their experiences on the day of the insurgency.
One huge question looming over the committee is whether former President Donald Trump would testify, and the widespread consensus is that he will not readily appear before Congress to answer questions.
Long-time Trump supporters will observe that he has a set of go-to excuses for evading accountability, which he will most likely utilize if called to testify.
With that in mind, here are the top three reasons Trump will most likely refuse to testify before the committee.
1. He’ll claim that the committee is not legitimate
Republicans are already claiming that the special select committee isn’t real because House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) refused to allow members to participate after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to let Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Jim Banks (R-IN) serve. Despite McCarthy’s displeasure, it is a bipartisan body. Representatives Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) are members of the committee and have promised to keep it bipartisan.
Republicans now have no choice except to attack Cheney and Kinzinger as “false” Republicans or “traitors.” Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) came close to using the same phrase, but instead said that the two Republicans were “blinded by ambition.” Cheney has already lost her position as the House’s third-ranking Republican, and Kinzinger’s seat is in jeopardy.
During the former president’s second impeachment hearing, his lawyers contended that it wasn’t a real trial because Trump had already left office when the trial began and that it was “unconstitutional.”
2. He will claim that subpoenaing him is just a public relations stunt
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During the second impeachment trial and investigations, Trump’s lawyers claimed that subpoenaing him would be nothing more than a publicity gimmick and that Trump would never testify. Trump made the remarks after complaining that he wasn’t allowed to defend himself.
“Presidents Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton both provided testimony while in office — and the Supreme Court held just last year that you were not immune from the legal process while serving as president — so there is no doubt that you can testify in these proceedings,” wrote Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD). “Indeed, whereas a sitting president might raise concerns about distraction from their official duties, that concern is obviously inapplicable here. We, therefore, anticipate your availability to testify.”
Trump’s impeachment lawyers argued that he has the freedom under the First Amendment to say whatever he wants at a rally. Trump may also invoke his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination, albeit this would have to be done on the record and in person.
3. Trump will try and claim that executive privilege prevents him from testifying
While Trump’s lawyers claimed that impeachment was unconstitutional since he was no longer president, they plan to invoke the executive branch’s protection this time to keep him from being subpoenaed.
Because Trump was president at the time, he’ll claim executive privilege protection for his calls with other Republicans during the Capitol rioting. In fact, he’ll claim that executive privilege shielded everything that happened that day.
There are undoubtedly additional reasons for him to avoid testifying that his lawyers will come up with.
Hillary Clinton testified for approximately 11 hours on Benghazi before one of the GOP’s select committees in 2016. If Trump refuses to cooperate with a subpoena, he risks being accused of being less powerful than Clinton and incapable of facing the panel’s members.