Receive free Donald Trump updates

Donald Trump’s alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election were merely “aspirational” requests and protected “free speech”, one of his lawyers said Sunday, as the former president prepares his defence against the latest criminal indictment from federal prosecutors.

The indictment unsealed on Tuesday cited a phone call in which Trump asked Georgia’s secretary of state to “find” 11,780 votes in order to win the state. John Lauro, a lawyer for Trump, told NBC in an interview Sunday that this was an “aspirational ask” — not a specific order — and that Trump was “entitled to petition even state government, but that doesn’t involve an obstruction of federal government”.

Lauro told CNN in a separate interview that Trump asking his vice-president, Mike Pence, to halt the counting of states’ votes in the electoral college on January 6, 2021, was similarly “aspirational”.

“Asking is aspirational; asking is not action,” Lauro said. The lawyer has also argued that Trump had a right to express his views on the 2020 polls under the First Amendment.

When asked by CBS if Trump had only requested that he delay the certification of polls in order for states to run audits, as argued by Lauro, Pence replied: “That’s not what happened”. 

Federal prosecutors unveiled a fresh criminal case against the former president last week, charging Trump with criminal counts including defrauding the US and conspiring to obstruct official proceedings. It is the second set of charges brought by special counsel Jack Smith, who was appointed by the US Department of Justice to oversee probes involving Trump, and the third criminal case brought against the former president this year.

Trump, who is the clear frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, has pleaded not guilty in all three cases.

Federal prosecutors accused Trump of arranging for fake representatives from seven states to cast votes in the electoral college. More broadly, the case will hinge on whether the DoJ can convince jurors beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump had criminal intent.

Lauro told CBS the ex-president “believed to his core that there were discrepancies in the election.” 

Trump has reacted furiously to the latest criminal case, considered to be the most serious legal threat against him. The former president said Sunday in a social media post that he would seek the recusal of the judge assigned to the case, Tanya Chutkan, as well as a change of venue away from Washington, where he may not expect fervent support. 

Lauro told CBS he would like “a diverse jury” and that West Virginia, which swung for Trump in the 2016 and 2020 elections, “would be an excellent venue”. He said Trump would not accept a plea deal.

A Barack Obama appointee, Chutkan has handed down some of the toughest penalties against defendants accused of attacking the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in an effort to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s victory.

She is also known for a 2021 ruling that allowed a congressional committee investigating the January 6 attack to access Trump’s government documents, in which she wrote that “Presidents are not kings”.

The public comments come after the DoJ on Friday filed a request to “protect” discovery in the case given its sensitivity, a motion Lauro said he opposed.

Federal prosecutors argued that the restriction would be “particularly important” in this case given that Trump, who has called Smith a “deranged lunatic”, had previously posted on social media in relation to witnesses, judges and other matters of the case.

The DoJ’s filing cited a post by Trump published on Friday saying: “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!”

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *