Trump’s inflammatory speech in Texas may have deepened his legal troubles, experts say | donald trump

Donald Trump’s inflammatory call at a rally in Texas for his supporters to stage massive protests against ‘radical, vicious and racist prosecutors’ could constitute obstruction of justice or other crimes and legally backfire on Trump , according to former federal prosecutors.

Trump’s barbed attack was seen as an attack on separate federal and state investigations into his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results and his real estate empire.

Trump’s rant that his supporters should launch the ‘biggest protests’ ever in three cities if prosecutors ‘do anything wrong or illegal’ in criminally indicting him for his efforts to undo the victory of Joe Biden in 2020, or for corporate tax evasion, took place on January 30. rally in Texas where he repeated lies that the election was rigged.

Legal experts were stunned by Trump’s strong hints that if he runs and wins a second term in 2024, he would pardon many of those accused of attacking the Capitol on January 6 last year. hoping to thwart congressional certification of Biden.

Richard Nixon’s former White House lawyer, John Dean, attacked Trump’s speech on pardons for rioters as “the business of dictators” and pointed out that “not confronting a tyrant does not only encourages bad behavior”.

Taken together, veteran prosecutors say Trump’s comments appeared to reveal the former president now felt more legally threatened by the three investigations in Atlanta, Washington and New York, all of which have accelerated since the start of 2022.

Trump’s anxiety was particularly palpable when he urged supporters of the Texas rally to stage ‘the biggest protests we’ve ever had in Washington D.C., in New York, in Atlanta and elsewhere’, if charges were brought. , a cry for help that could boomerang and create more legal problems for the former president.

Dennis Aftergut, a former federal prosecutor who serves as counsel for Lawyers Defending American Democracy, told the Guardian that Trump “may have shot himself in the foot” with the comments. “Criminal intent can be difficult to prove, but when a potential defendant says something easily seen as intimidating or threatening to those investigating the case, it becomes easier,” Aftergut said.

Aftergut added that after proclaiming “his support for the insurgents, Trump added evidence of his bribery intent on January 6 should the DOJ prosecute him for aiding the seditious conspiracy or obstructing an official congressional process.”

Similarly, a former US attorney in Georgia, Michael Moore, said Trump’s comments could “potentially intimidate witnesses and members of a grand jury,” noting that it is a crime in Georgia to dissuade a witness from testify before a grand jury.

Trump “essentially calls for vigilante justice against the justice system. He is not interested in pursuing justice but in blocking any investigation,” Moore added.

Trump’s outburst of anger came as three investigations by prosecutors that could lead to charges against Trump or his top associates all appeared to gain momentum last month.

A special grand jury, for example, was approved in Atlanta to focus on Trump’s appeal to Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on January 2 last year, asking him to simply “find” enough votes to block Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia, a state Trump lost by more than 11,700 votes.

Trump’s call for huge protests prompted Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who is leading the criminal investigation, to ask the FBI to do a threat assessment to protect his office and the grand jury who must meet in May.

Also last month, a senior justice official revealed that the DOJ was investigating bogus election certifications declaring Trump the winner in several states he had lost, a ploy allegedly pushed by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani by which Vice President Mike Pence could block Congress from certifying Biden’s victory. Much to Trump’s chagrin, Pence rejected the plan.

Additionally, the New York State Attorney General said in a court filing last month that investigators had found evidence that Trump’s real estate business was using “fraudulent or misleading” asset appraisals to obtain assets. loans and tax benefits, allegations that Trump and his lawyers have called politically motivated.

Former prosecutors say Trump’s comments in Texas are dangerous and could legally boomerang as prosecutors appear to be gaining new momentum.

“Our criminal laws are about holding people accountable for their willful actions,” said Paul Pelletier, former acting chief of the fraud section at the DOJ. “Trump’s history of inciting violence shows that his recent remarks have the potential to disrupt ongoing investigations against him and his family members.”

Pelletier added, “If his conduct actually interfered with any of these investigations, federal and state obstruction laws could easily aggravate Mr. Trump’s criminal exposure.”

Trump’s remarks resonated particularly in Georgia, where former prosecutors have said he may now face new legal issues.

Former prosecutor Aftergut noted that Willis understood the threat when she quickly asked the FBI to provide courthouse protection, and he predicted the immediate effect on assistant prosecutors working the case would be “to energize them in the pursuit of the case”.

Along the same lines, former ambassador Norm Eisen and the co-chair of the United Democracy Center of the United States said that Trump’s call to demonstrate in Atlanta, New York and Washington if prosecutors indict him “looks like certainly a thinly veiled call to violence”. This is especially true when you combine it with his other statements at the Texas rally about how the latest mob of insurgents are being mistreated and have done nothing wrong.”

Additionally, Congresswoman Liz Cheney, co-chair of the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol by Trump supporters, said Trump’s speeches about pardons and encouragement of New protests suggest he “would do it again if given the chance”.

On another legal front, Aftergut pointed out that some of Trump’s comments at the rally could help DOJ prosecutors expand their investigation. “Trump gave federal prosecutors another freebie when he said Mike Pence should have ‘cancelled the election’.”

Some seasoned consultants say Trump’s latest attacks on prosecutors show he’s growing nervous as investigations seem to be getting hotter.

“Trump’s attorney attacks are wearing thin with the broad Republican electorate,” said Arizona Republican consultant Chuck Coughlin. “He’s trying to concoct the base for personal gain. This is another iteration of Trump’s attacks on government.

From a broader perspective, Moore pointed out that Trump’s multiple attacks on the legal system at the rally in Texas represent “just another erosion of the standards of a civilized society by Trump.” Truth has trumped Trumpism.”

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