Is Donald Trump in so much legal trouble that jail is inevitable at some point? Recent legal filings hint at what defense the former president might use in the event he’s faced with charges related to the January 6 insurrection.
But now, as he’s running for president again, Donald Trump is facing potential criminal exposure on several fronts, including investigations in both New York and Georgia that have gone before grand juries, as well as Special Counsel probes of both his Mar-a-Lago documents matter and his rule in the January 6 insurrection.
Trump has mostly sent critical missives from his Truth Social account towards those investigating him in the different jurisdictions. But if he’s actually indicted, how will Donald Trump defend himself? Some new legal filings provide an indication of that, in at least one of his cases.
As David Graham writes in The Atlantic, some clues are hidden in the language of a message the ex-president sent this week, both to Truth Social and to fundraising lists, referring to “the witch hunt of January 6.”
“I have been newly reinstated on Twitter and various other social media platforms, and my Tweets, which were taken down by Big Tech censorship, and thus seen by very few, have just been made public. My clear and unequivocal statements on January 6, 2021, which I conveyed to my over 100 million followers, are no longer under “wraps.” The highly partisan January 6th Committee did not want these messages to be part of the Historical and Legal Record, but they have now been fully restored,” Trump wrote as part of the post.
“The two exonerating Tweets, and the Rose Garden Video, which were posted in the early afternoon of January 6, 2021, and attempted to be hidden by the Unselect January 6th Committee, clearly and unquestionably state my desire that all protestors be peaceful and follow the Law.”
It’s not true that these statements were ever, in any sense, “hidden” as Trump claims. Even when Trump’s Twitter account was banned, the statements were both included in contemporary news coverage, and in various maintained archives of Trump’s tweets. Those tweets were also mentioned, multiple times, in the January 6 Committee’s final report.
Furthermore, as noted by The Atlantic’s David A. Graham, the statement is less than convincing.
“The points it makes add up to a message that is extremely unconvincing as a matter of common sense—everyone saw what happened and how Trump encouraged the riot, and evidence since then has only reinforced his culpability—but might sow enough doubt with a jury to derail a conviction.”
Graham also noted that the statements aren’t as exculpatory as Trump says they are.
“The problem is that these tweets came after Donald Trump had spent weeks telling his followers that the election had been stolen and hours after he demanded that a crowd gathered in Washington, D.C., ‘fight like hell’ if it wanted to keep the country as they knew it,” he noted.” The tweets were too little, too late; by the time Trump sent them, rioters had already overcome police and broken into the Capitol.”
Graham also noted that Donald Trump appears to be changing his emphasis.
“This statement represents a striking shift for Trump: He is effectively blaming the protesters. Since January 6, he has tried to avoid doing that,” The Atlantic writer said. “he both insisted that the protests were peaceful and blamed antifa for violence; he both praised protesters for trying to stop the supposed theft of the election and attacked police for using excessive force. He’s also said he would pardon people convicted for their participation. To mount a successful defense here, however, he has to separate himself from the mob, arguing that he wanted peace but the rioters didn’t listen to him. That’s politically risky but legally canny.”
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Expertise and Experience: Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review, and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.