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Donald Trump’s attorney defended the former president’s right to petition the federal government under the First Amendment during several media appearances on Sunday.
John Lauro joined Trump’s legal team to deal with the newest indictment stemming from his alleged effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. He said the charges that also reference Trump’s alleged involvement in the January 6 U.S. Capitol riot represent “an effort to prevent President Trump from running for president” in the 2024 election.
“What we have here is political speech, where President Trump is petitioning the government,” Lauro said.
Last week, a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., indicted Trump on four counts for his alleged involvement in challenging President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. The Department of Justice charged Trump with Conspiracy to Defraud the United States, Conspiracy to Obstruct an Official Proceeding, Obstruction of an Attempt to Obstruct an Official Proceeding, and Conspiracy Against Rights.
Lauro said he and Trump have argued that the indictment stacked against him is an attack on his First Amendment rights.
“All of the examples in this indictment are core political speech,” Lauro said. “Every single thing that President Trump is being prosecuted for involves aspirational asks — asking state legislatures, asking state governors, asking state electoral officials to do the right thing.”
“In fact, even asking Vice President [Mike] Pence was protected by free speech,” he added. “None of that is illegal.”
Special Counsel Jack Smith, whose office is investigating Trump, reportedly called the January 6 events an “unprecedented assault on the seat of American democracy.”
“It was fueled by lies, lies by the defendant targeted at obstructing a bedrock function of the U.S. government: the nation’s process of collecting, counting and certifying the results of the presidential election,” Smith said.
Trump has denied all wrongdoing and accused the indictment of being “election interference.”
In the run-up and aftermath to the 2022 midterm elections, Lauro said President Biden made repeated statements about a plan to prevent his predecessor from running for president again. Trump is currently the frontrunner in the 2024 GOP presidential primary.
Biden addressed the media post-2022 midterms telling reporters, “We just have to demonstrate that he will not take power by, if we, if he does run. I’m making sure he, under legitimate efforts of our Constitution, does not become the next president again.”
Lauro suggested that in the context of Biden’s remarks, the Justice Department is carrying out the so-called plan from the current president.
“Ironically, the same theories that are being used in this indictment against President Trump could be used against President Biden for enlisting his Justice Department,” Lauro told Fox News.
President Trump's attorney John Lauro: "Make no mistake about it, this is effort to prevent President Trump from running for president." pic.twitter.com/ciAPfac63n
— MAGA War Room (@MAGAIncWarRoom) August 6, 2023