Former president Donald Trump’s attorney slammed special counsel Jack Smith Tuesday for indicting his client in the January 6 probe, saying it’s a “terribly tragic day.”
John Lauro said the 45-page indictment shows that political speech has been “criminalized.”
“Joe Biden’s running against Donald Trump and losing currently. And now we have [the] Justice Department indicting President Trump for actions that he took as the executive, as the chief executive of the United States with respect to public policy matters,” he explained on “Special Report.” “So now we have the criminalization and the weaponization of public policy and political speech by one political party over another.”
Trump was indicted by a federal grand jury on four charges: conspiracy to defraud the United States; conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding; and conspiracy against rights.
Lauro said the indictment of his client is “unprecedented” and argued it doesn’t just affect the former president but “every American who now realizes that the First Amendment is under assault.”
“It’s under attack by the Biden administration. We now have a political incumbent who is attacking Americans for their beliefs, attacking Americans for their speech and attacking Americans for their politics. This has never happened in the history of our country, and it’s playing out right now,” he continued.
Host Bret Baier read part of the indictment about Trump’s actions after the 2020 presidential election.
“The Defendant lost the 2020 presidential election. Despite having lost, the Defendant was determined to remain in power. So for more than two months following election day on November 3, 2020, the Defendant spread lies that there had been outcome-determinative fraud in the election and that he had actually won. These claims were false, and the Defendant knew they were false. But the Defendant repeated and widely disseminated them anyway- to make knowingly false claims appear legitimate, create an intense national atmosphere of mistrust and anger, and erode public faith in the administration of the election,” the first page of the indictment states.
Lauro responded to the allegations against his client, saying he would like the Justice Department to “prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Donald Trump believed that these allegations were false.”
He claimed Trump saw changes in election procedure and received advice from counsel that he had the ability to ask former Vice President Mike Pence to pause the certification on January 6 and have certain states audit and recertify the results to “know ultimately who won the election.”
“And that’s the only thing that President Trump suggested. There’s nothing unlawful about that. He was entitled to do that as the chief executive officer carrying out the laws. And nothing about that was obstructive,” Lauro stated.
Pence released a statement after the 45th president was indicted, writing in part that Trump asked him on January 6 to choose between the Constitution or Trump’s career.
“Our country is more important than one man. Our [C]onstitution is more important than any one man’s career,” Pence said. “I chose the Constitution and I always will.”
Lauro added that he believes Trump is being indicted for free speech and for objecting to the outcome of the 2020 election.
“Any American that takes that view should be equally concerned. Are they next? Because the reality is that if a president can be indicted for free speech, then anybody can be indicted,” he said. “So when this case goes to trial, we’re going to be representing not just President Trump, but every single American that believes in the First Amendment and believes in your ability to redress and bring grievances to Congress. And that’s exactly what people were doing.”
Trump has been ordered to appear in federal court in Washington D.C. for his arraignment on Thursday.
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