On Thursday's edition of MSNBC's "The Beat," former Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman walked through how Senate Democrats should lean on Chief Justice John Roberts to compel testimony from President Donald Trump in the impeachment trial.
"[B]ecause this is a civil matter, Trump has no Fifth Amendment privilege in terms of refusing to get up on the witness stand. He has to get up if he's called," said Akerman. "And if he's testifying, there's no way he can talk himself out of this. That's the problem that the Republicans have. The facts are so overwhelming that Donald Trump was using the peoples' money to shake down the president of Ukraine. And he can't talk himself out of this. He can be cross-examined. He's going to lie on it. But the lies aren't going to do any good in light of the facts upon which he can be cross-examined."
"It sounds like you're saying there's no wiggle room, that if Mitch McConnell opens the door for at least one witness, if he doesn't have this ironclad, meaning that the Republicans shut this thing down before it starts, we may end up with President Trump taking the witness stand," said anchor Ayman Mohyeldin.
"If I were the prosecutor for the House, the first witness I would call is Donald J. Trump, put him up on that witness stand," said Akerman. "First get a subpoena from Justice Roberts. If the subpoena doesn't do it, I would ask for a bench warrant. If he still refuses to come, the jury of senators has the right to take adverse inference, just like in any case if somebody refuses to testify or takes the Fifth Amendment because a truthful answer would tend to incriminate them. That inference can be taken against Donald Trump. And on that basis alone, he should be removed from office."
"Do you think he would do that, given the fact he's tweeted saying he may answer questions by the House when they were looking into his impeachment?" asked Mohyeldin.
"Sure, whenever it suits his advantage," said Akerman. "In the House, oh, I'm being denied due process because I can't testify and give my side of the story. Well, the trial is where somebody gives their side of the story. He's been accused. He's been in a sense indicted. That's what an impeachment is. This is his chance to come in and show the American people that he did nothing wrong. He just can't do that."