Criminal Justice

'Very, very wise and learned counsel' defense will be key in Trump's election trial, his lawyer says

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Donald Trump

Former President Donald Trump “got advice from counsel—very, very wise and learned counsel—on a variety of constitutional and legal issues,” John Lauro, a lawyer for Trump, told NPR. Photo by Evan Vucci/The Associated Press.

John Lauro, a lawyer for former President Donald Trump, is pointing to an advice-of-counsel defense in the case accusing Trump of trying to subvert the 2020 election results.

Trump thought that he could ask then-Vice President Mike Pence to halt the count of presidential electors based on a “very detailed memorandum from a constitutional expert,” Lauro told Fox News.

Lauro was referring to John Eastman, a former Chapman University law professor, the Washington Post reports.

Lauro made a similar point in interviews with NPR and NBC’s Today show, according to NPR and CNBC.

Trump “got advice from counsel—very, very wise and learned counsel—on a variety of constitutional and legal issues,” Lauro told NPR. “So it’s a very straightforward defense that he had every right to advocate for a position that he believed in and his supporters believed in.”

Two of the four charges against Trump are based on an obstruction statute that requires proof of corrupt intent, Lauro told NPR. To prove corrupt intent, Lauro said, prosecutors must show “not only that you don’t believe in the position that you’re advancing, but you’re doing it for a corrupt purpose, you’re doing it to obstruct a government function, rather than a truth-seeking function.”

Lauro said the defense will tell jurors that Trump “was arguing for the truth to come out in that election cycle, rather than the truth to be denied.”

Lauro also defended a plan to find pro-Trump electors in states that President Joe Biden won.

“These weren’t fake electors, those were alternate electors,” Lauro told Today.

Lauro also said Trump had a right to advocate for his belief that the election was stolen and to take action based on that belief.

“Free speech encompasses political advocacy, which often involves acting on that free speech,” Lauro told NPR. “So for example, if I were to take a position that I believe or I don’t believe, that young men should register for service, there’s a Supreme Court case right on point that says I’m entitled to do that. Even though I am advocating a certain action or inaction, it’s still protected by the First Amendment.”

Lauro told NPR that the election case against Trump “is going to be one of the biggest cases in the history of the United States.”

He said the trial could last for six to 12 months.

See also: “‘Presidents are not kings’ judge will oversee Trump election-subversion case”

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