“His attorneys are begging him to stop”: Legal experts on Trump’s latest interview

Donald Trump acknowledged that lawyers and members of his campaign staff told him that he had lost the 2020 presidential election and advised him not to push election fraud cases. It was entirely his decision, the former president said, to push false claims that the election was rigged and he had been cheated of victory.

“In many cases, I didn’t respect them,” Trump said of his advisers and attorneys during an interview with Kristen Welker on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” which aired Sunday. “But I did respect others. I respected many others that said the election was rigged.”

Trump has been indicted both on state and federal charges for his attempts to overturn the 2020 election. In federal court, he faces four felony counts filed in August by special counsel Jack Smith, including obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the United States. He pleaded not guilty last month. 

Prosecutors in the federal case have pointed out that Trump received advice from legal counsel that his electoral defeat was legitimate, and his campaign faced dozens of legal defeats in courtrooms across the country numerous while attempting to contest the outcome during the weeks after the 2020 election. Despite all that, Trump continued to push out falsehoods. 

“The federal and state cases against Trump get stronger nearly every time he does an interview,” James Sample, a professor of constitutional law at Hofstra University, told Salon. “One of the key premises of those cases,” he continued, is that “numerous aides, allies and attorneys told him that he had lost the election, but he nonetheless pressed ahead with the false claims.” Trump’s comments on “Meet the Press” only “reinforce that key premise,” Sample said. “Speaking to the press may well be politically astute, but legally, it’s the gift that he keeps on giving to prosecutors.”

Speaking of his numerous lawyers, Trump said, “You hire them, you’ve never met these people, you get a recommendation, they turn out to be RINOs or they turn out to be not so good.”

As Sample suggests, Jack Smith’s case against Trump is predicated on the idea that Trump knowingly spread false election claims, even after being repeatedly told by close aides that he had lost the election.  

Trump told Welker during the interview that he listened to people outside his inner circle of advisers, and that when he “added it all up,” he came to the conclusion that “the election was rigged.”

Speaking of the many lawyers he has employed in recent years, Trump said, “You hire them, you’ve never met these people, you get a recommendation, they turn out to be RINOs or they turn out to be not so good. In many cases, I didn’t respect them.”

After his electoral defeat, Trump pursued various strategies to challenge the election outcome. He exerted pressure on Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn his narrow 2020 loss in the state.

Despite criminal indictments in three different states and the District of Columbia, Trump has continued to do TV interviews in which he talks about the cases and defends his alleged criminal actions, an approach that legal experts do not generally consider sound.

“The more Trump talks, the more jeopardy he puts himself in,” Michigan attorney Jamie White, who handles criminal defense and civil rights cases, told Salon. “It’s been one crazy statement after another since he first began campaigning for president, but now the stakes are higher because he faces criminal liability in both federal and state court, and all the charges risk potential jail time.”

White added that by continuing to speak about the cases publicly, the former president is making it more difficult for his lawyers to defend him: “The idea that he’s ever going to subject himself to cross-examination in light of these statements to the media — it’s a defense counsel’s nightmare.”

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Earlier this summer, Trump appeared in a Fox News interview discussing the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case, telling the host he wasn’t able to hand over government records to federal officials because he had been “very busy” and hadn’t had time to sort through dozens of boxes of material taken from the White House. 

His recent comments on “Meet the Press,” in which the ex-president admitted that he was told the election was fair but bought into alternative theories, could similarly impact his criminal defense, White pointed out. 

It’s precisely the type of statement “known as an admission against interest,” White said, meaning “a statement made outside of court that is against a party’s own interest — and it is admissible in court.” 

Such a statement could be used in “more than one capacity,” White added, but is most likely to come into play as an example of “inconsistencies between statements Trump has made in the media or on the campaign trail, versus statements he has made in sworn or deposition testimony. It could be an effective tool in undermining Trump’s credibility before a jury.

“Counsel could use these statements to question how reliable his testimony is, given these inconsistencies,” White said. “And Trump has left a lot of breadcrumbs in terms of inconsistent statements. I suspect his attorneys are begging him to stop.”

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about Donald J. Trump’s trouble with the law

Source : https://www.salon.com/2023/09/19/his-attorneys-are-begging-him-to-stop/

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