Whatever your view on President Trump’s responsibility for the events of January 6th, it was still stunning to hear Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York City on Jonathan Capehart’s MSNBC Sunday Show this morning, argue that the Senate should interpret Trump’s declining to testify as “incriminating.” Asked by Capehart whether President Trump should testify, Jeffries responded:
“He should testify and defend himself. But because he has clearly refused to do so, in my view, there should be an adverse impact, an inference drawn that anything he would have had to say would have actually not been exonerating. It would have been incriminating.”
Even if an impeachment trial is not a criminal trial per se, stripping the right against self-incrimination would run counter to fundamental principles of American justice, and flout the spirit of the 5th Amendment.
In Griffin v. California, the Supreme Court ruled that it is a violation of a defendant’s Fifth Amendment rights for the prosecutor to comment to the jury on the defendant’s declining to testify, or for the judge to instruct the jury that such silence is evidence of guilt.
Capehart didn’t utter a peep of protest to Jeffries’ outrageous suggestion. Rather, he moved right along, asking Dem Sen. Richard Blumenthal the same question of whether President Trump should testify.
Capehart then claimed it would be “absolutely, patently ridiculous” for Trump’s lawyers to analogize the Capitol breach to the 2020 BLM riots.
Jeffries was only too happy to agree, and repeated Capehart’s claim from earlier in the show that an “independent analysis” found that the BLM protests were “93% peaceful.” Only 7% violent! Sort of like the building in Minneapolis burning behind Ali Velshi as he proclaimed the riot “not unruly.”
How do you think Capehart or Jeffries [a lawyer who clerked for a federal judge] would have reacted if someone suggested that the declining to testify by BLM members charged in rioting, looting, arson and other crimes in 2020 should be taken by the jury as “incriminating?” Rhetorical question. But because Jeffries is a partisan Democrat, he would strip Trump of the constitutional protections that apply to all citizens.
Capehart concluded the segment by saying it was “a great way to start The Sunday Show.” But of course.
Democrat Hakeem Jeffries, arguing that the Senate should draw the “inference” from President Trump declining to testify at the trial that his testimony would have been “incriminating” was sponsored in part by Tide, Proctor & Gamble, maker of Secret, Liberty Mutual, and Xfinity.
Here’s the transcript.
The Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart
10:08 am ET
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Congressman Jeffries, in the first impeachment trial, then-President Trump was not called to — was not called to testify. I’m just wondering, now that we’re facing the second impeachment trial, and the House impeachment managers this go-around sent a letter asking for President–Donald Trump–to testify. He declined. Do you think he should?
HAKEEM JEFFRIES: Well, I think the president claims to be innocent, to have had nothing to do with the fact that a violent mob attacked the Capitol, resulting in the spilling of American blood. He presumably still believes that he actually won the election, and the presidency was stolen from him and artificially handed to Joe Biden.
He should testify and defend himself. But because he has clearly refused to do so, in my view, there should be an adverse impact, an inference drawn that anything he would have had to say would have actually not been exonerating. It would have been incriminating.