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Senate Republicans don't want Trump to testify in impeachment trial

Senate Republicans on Thursday said they don't want former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump: McConnell 'helpless' to stop Biden from packing court Romney on NRSC awarding Trump: Not 'my preference' McConnell sidesteps Trump calling him 'dumb son of a b----' MORE to testify as part of a second impeachment trial after House impeachment managers formally requested the former president testify under oath next week.

The public pushback comes as his legal team appears to be shooting down the request from the House impeachment managers, dismissing it as a "publicity stunt."

GOP senators say there's no reason for Trump to testify after the House impeached him for a historic second time without calling any witnesses, a move that was different than the 2019 impeachment effort. 

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House Democrats argued they could move more quickly this time because lawmakers experienced the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol firsthand and had witnessed Trump's speech just prior to the riot, where he urged supporters to march to the Capitol building.

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamMSNBC's Joy Reid pans Manchin, Sinema as the 'no progress caucus' Overnight Defense: Biden proposes 3B defense budget | Criticism comes in from left and right | Pentagon moves toward new screening for extremists Biden defense budget criticized by Republicans, progressives alike MORE (R-S.C.), a close Trump ally who said he spoke to the former president "a couple of days ago," dismissed the House impeachment managers' request as a "political ploy."

"I don’t think that would be in anybody’s interest," he said about Trump testifying. "Just cause it’s just a nightmare for the country to do this, it’s just a political showboat move to do this and they didn’t call him in the House."

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzBoehner: 'There's a lot of leaders in the Republican Party' Biden picks vocal Trump critics to lead immigration agencies Boehner: Trump 'stepped all over their loyalty' by lying to followers MORE (R-Texas) echoed that telling reporters that it would amount to "partisan theater." 

"I think that just shows that what they're looking for is a show trial. This is all about partisanship," Cruz said. "To coin a phrase, it's time to move on."

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Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyNumber of migrants detained at southern border reaches 15-year high: reports Grassley, Cornyn push for Senate border hearing The Hill's Morning Report - GOP pounces on Biden's infrastructure plan MORE (R-Iowa) questioned why the Senate would call witnesses when the House didn't.

"They expect the Senate to do their work. And we, and I don't know why we have to pick up the pieces for the inadequacy of the House of Representatives," Grassley said.

The GOP pushback comes after Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden officials brace for worst despite vaccine data Political fireworks fuel DC statehood hearing Democrats vow to go 'bold' — with or without GOP MORE (D-Md.), the lead House impeachment manager, sent Trump a letter arguing that the former president's defense, outlined in legal briefs, denies irrefutable facts about Trump’s role in the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

“You have thus attempted to put critical facts at issue notwithstanding the clear and overwhelming evidence of your constitutional offense,” Raskin wrote Trump. “In light of your disputing these factual allegations, I write to invite you to provide testimony under oath, either before or during the Senate impeachment trial, concerning your conduct on January 6, 2021.”

But Trump did not testify during the House's first impeachment or the subsequent Senate trial when no additional witnesses were called.

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Though Republicans fumed at the president after the Jan. 6 attack, Democrats aren't expected to be able to get the 67 votes needed to formally convict Trump at the end of a trial. 

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulCharles Booker launches exploratory committee to consider challenge to Rand Paul Rand Paul calls Fauci a 'petty tyrant' Biden picks vocal Trump critics to lead immigration agencies MORE (R-Ky.), asked about Trump testifying, called the trial "illegitimate" and "unconstitutional."

"They don't have the votes to convict so this is just, I think continuing to embitter the public. It's divisive, and it does nothing to promote unity. I think it's a big mistake on the Democrats part," Paul said.  

Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings GOP senator recovering from surgery for prostate cancer Congress must address the toxic exposure our veterans have endured MORE (R-N.C.) added that the House is "doing stuff that they should have done when they had it in the House before they drew up the article."

Republicans weren't the only ones wary of Trump testifying. 

Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinNixed Interior nominee appointed to different department role  Against mounting odds, Biden seeks GOP support for infrastructure plan Democrats face mounting hurdles to agenda MORE (D-W.Va.) said he would leave the decision up to House managers but "boy, that'd be a dog and pony show."  

Sen. Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsCEOs say proposed Biden tax hike would hurt competitiveness Biden to meet Monday with bipartisan lawmakers about infrastructure Buttigieg: Biden will have 'open mind' toward changes to infrastructure bill MORE (D-Del.) added that it would be a "terrible idea." 

"Have you met President Trump?" he asked.