Donald Trump’s lawyers are preparing to defend against charges from the Department of Justice, while the former president’s lawyers are increasingly worried that their client will be charged for his role in the 2020 election attempt. .
Members of the former president’s legal team have already begun brainstorming strategies and defense options, according to three people familiar with the matter and the memos reviewed by Rolling Stone. Trump himself has been briefed on possible legal protections at least twice this summer, two of the sources said.
The move intensified after former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified in June before a House committee investigating the matter on January 6.
“Members of Trump’s legal team are preparing carefully, in the event of their indictment,” said one person familiar with the matter. “It wouldn’t be unemployment. Do the [former] president’s lawyers agree with everything Cassidy said? No. … Do they think the Justice Department would be wise enough to charge him? No. But we have reached a point where if you don’t think that the charges are minimal, you don’t do the [former] president’s needs.”
The source spoke on condition of anonymity for internal discussions. Trump’s official representatives did not respond to requests for comment for this story.
In their preparations, Trump’s team has discussed strategies that include shifting blame from Trump to his advisers for efforts to overturn the election, according to the three sources, indicating a broader effort to find a faller — or he fell. “Trump got some terrible advice from lawyers who, some people would argue, should have known or should have known better,” said one of the sources with knowledge of the recent discussions in Trumpland. “The decision to ‘suggest’ a dog would be a big deal.”
Other strategies that can be used include protections based on the First Amendment and the right to sue the government for political grievances. Such debates are seen domestically as a possible defense against charges related to a “fake election” scheme.
Federal prosecutors have questioned former Vice President Mike Pence’s aides about Trump’s involvement in his campaign’s efforts to release those fraudulent voter registrations, The Washington Post reported last week. . After Trump lost the election in November, his campaign and supporters used fake voters to announce Trump as the winner of their state’s electoral college. The move aims to provide sufficient legal legitimacy to Trump’s election fraud conspiracy theory, and pressure officials in the states to declare him the winner. The attempt failed, but since then it has attracted the attention of prosecutors, not only in the Department of Justice, but in states where Republicans are united on racially charged elections.
If the Justice Department comes up with charges, Trump’s current team admits that they will have to bring in more legal power to handle historic defenses. “You need to have real weight at the top [of the legal team] for something like this, but right now nobody knows who that will be,” said one Trump adviser.
Some of Trump’s top legal and political advisers are skeptical that Attorney General Merrick Garland will want to pursue his charges. Biden’s role as attorney general has long been regarded as a senior administration official, wary of the unintended consequences or potential consequences of criminal charges against the former president.
“I think the culprits can be prosecuted. Whether they propose is the most difficult consideration for the country,” Ty Cobb, former White House attorney general, told Rolling Stone in June. “It’s possible for Trump and [Mark] Meadows for sure. And others, including lawyers, who have committed fraud in court or investigation.”
The charges against the former president will be the first time in the history of the United States that a former president has been charged with crimes he committed while in office. A statement by the Nixon-era Justice Department, reiterated during the Clinton presidency, stated that presidents should not be impeached while in office. However, it is not known how the former president will be prosecuted legally, considering the absence of what happened, and it will invite a constitutional challenge that will end in the Supreme Court.
Trump also appears to be aware of the potential backlash from federal indictments — and is telling his supporters that it could be politically beneficial. Earlier this year, the former president told supporters at a Texas rally that if prosecutors go after him, “we’re going to have the biggest protests in this country … in Washington, D.C., in New York, Atlanta, and elsewhere.”
Trump has repeated versions of that line to longtime confidants and associates, including in regular meetings this summer, the person with knowledge of the matter said. “He said,” the source said, “that he would make the crowd on [Jan. 6] look small in comparison.”