Washington: Donald Trump's defence lawyer claims that the former president never asked Mike Pence to thwart the will of the voters in the 2020 election, only to "pause" the certification of votes so that states could look into his allegations of election fraud. Several courts had already dismissed those unfounded allegations.
John Lauro, an attorney for Trump, claimed that when Trump asked Pence to postpone the certification on January 6, 2021, he was acting within the bounds of his First Amendment rights.
Lauro stated on CBS' "Face the Nation" that Lauro's "ultimate request of Vice President Pence was to pause the counts and allow the states to weigh in." Trump further stated that he believed there were election irregularities that required state authorities to look into before the results could be certified.
In an interview on Sunday, Pence, who, like Trump, is vying for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, categorically refuted that account, claiming that Trump had been "convinced" as early as December that Pence had the authority to reject or return votes and that, on January 5, Trump's lawyers had instructed him, "We want you to reject votes outright."
"They requested that I annul the election. Pence said on CNN's "State of the Union" that he had no right to void the election.
Pence's role in certifying Joe Biden's victory over Trump in the 2020 election makes him a key player in the case against the president for allegedly trying to thwart the will of the people and hold onto power despite the fact that the courts flatly rejected his claims of electoral fraud. Election officials from the federal and state levels as well as Trump's own attorney general had previously stated that there was no solid proof that the election had been tainted.
In an attack on a "bedrock function of the US government," as special counsel Jack Smith put it, Trump and his allies repeatedly lied about the election results in the two months following his loss and put pressure on Pence and state election officials to take action to help him hold onto power, according to last week's indictment. On January 6, 2021, Trump supporters violently stormed the Capitol in an effort to halt the certification, which was the culmination of those efforts.
To those accusations, Trump entered a not guilty plea. Additionally, he is accused of improperly maintaining classified documents at his Palm Beach, Florida, resort and obstructing an investigation into their handling. These allegations relate to payments made in hush money to a porn actor in New York as well as falsifying business records related to those payments.
Speaking on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," Lauro predicted that Pence's testimony would demonstrate Trump's belief that the election was rigged and that he followed his lawyers' counsel in trying to delay the certification. Pence said he will follow the law if called to testify and said he testified before the grand jury that indicted Trump.
Lauro said, "I can't wait until I get to question Mr. Pence on the other side." He will completely dispel any doubt that President Trump firmly believed that election irregularities had produced an unfavourable outcome.
The 45-page indictment describes how Trump was repeatedly informed by those close to him that he had lost and that his allegations of fraud were unfounded. Days before the riot, according to the indictment, Trump allegedly told Pence that he was "too honest" after the vice president claimed that he lacked the power to revoke electoral votes.
Former Trump allies claim that despite knowing he had lost, Trump continued to spread untrue allegations of fraud. Trump and his allies recruited fictitious electors in swing states to sign certificates falsely claiming Trump had won the election after failing to persuade state officials to illegally swing the election.
According to Bill Barr, Trump's former attorney general, "He knew well that he had lost the election."
Trump's legal team wants a more diverse jury, according to Lauro, so they will try to have the case transferred out of Washington. He denied rumours that the trial might be over before the 2024 election and said he would support having it broadcast on television.
On "Face the Nation" on CBS, Lauro said, "In 40 years of practising law, on a case of this magnitude, I've never known a single case to go to trial before two to three years."
Chris Christie, a former federal prosecutor and current Republican governor of New Jersey, responded to inquiries about Trump's ability to obtain a fair trial in the nation's capital by affirming that he can.
"Yes, I think fair jurors are possible. I have faith in the American people, Christie declared on CNN on Sunday.
Numerous defendants in the Jan. 6 riot case have attempted to have their trials moved outside of Washington. However, judges have consistently denied these motions, stating that fair jurors can be found with the right questioning.
The prosecution's request for a protective order restricting Trump's ability to publicly discuss the case has until Monday at 5 p.m. in order for Trump's legal team to respond. Judge Tanya Chutkan of the US District Court will make the decision.
Protective orders are frequently granted in criminal proceedings, but according to the prosecution, they are "particularly important in this case" given the social media posts made by Trump about "witnesses, judges, solicitors and others associated with legal matters pending against him."
The prosecution specifically cited a post from Friday on Trump's Truth Social platform in which he said, "If you go after me, I'm coming after you!