Trump’s Lawyer Claims U.S. Had ‘Peaceful Transition of Power’ – Rolling Stone

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Donald Trump’s attorney John Lauro has made some wild claims to defend his client, the latest of which is that America had a “peaceful transition of power” from Trump to Biden — ignoring the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Trump “took what he was entitled to do,” Lauro told Chuck Todd in a Sunday interview on Meet the Press, “which was petition Vice President Pence on Jan. 6.”

“Once that petition was completed and Vice President Pence rejected his position, it was over and there was a peaceful transition of power,” he added. Pence might argue with that assertion, considering after he “rejected” Trump’s “position,” a horde of the then-president’s supporters were shouting for Pence’s execution and erecting a gallows for him in front of the Capitol.

Lauro maade the same argument to CNN’s Dana Bash, saying, “The transfer of power was certainly peaceful.”

“Did you see what happened on January 6? Did that look peaceful?” an incredulous Bash asked Lauro.

“I’m not saying that that was in any way appropriate, but the ultimate power of the presidency was transferred to Mr. Biden,” Lauro responded.

The former president’s lawyer also attempted to justify Trump’s attempts to overturn the election as protected by the First Amendment, including pushing Pence as well as state officials to reject electors, an easily refuted argument Trump allies have been making since the indictment became public.

“The defense is quite simple,” Lauro said. “President Trump believed in his heart of hearts that he had won that election. And as any American citizen, he had a right to speak out under the First Amendment. He had a right to petition governments around the government, state governments, based on his grievances that election irregularities had occurred.”

Later in the interview, Lauro claimed, “Political speech is the most protected speech that we have under our Constitution. It’s important to go back and read the test of the First Amendment. So you can actually say that a government official is acting criminally. That’s protected by the First Amendment. If we lose the First Amendment rights, then heaven forbid we lose the right to freedom of the press.”

“You’re not allowed to use speech, though, in order to get somebody to commit a crime,” Todd fired back.

Lauro additionally tried to alleged — both on NBC and CNN on Sunday — that Trump asking Pence to overturn electors, pressing Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to find him votes, and asking the Arizona House speaker to interfere with his state’s electors were “aspirational” asks.

Todd played audio recording of Trump telling Raffensperger he might be committing a “criminal offense” if he didn’t “find 11,780 votes” before asking Lauro, “If [Trump] had proof he won the state, why did he threaten the secretary of state with a criminal charge?”

“That wasn’t a threat at all,” Lauro claimed. “What he was asking for is for Raffensperger to get to the truth. He believes that there were an excess of 10,000 votes that were counted illegally. And what he was asking for is the secretary of state to act appropriately and find these votes that were counted illegally. That was an aspirational ask. He is entitled to petition even state government.”

Lauro used the same “aspirational” defense on CNN when defending Trump asking Pence to reject electors from certain states he lost.

“But what happens in the course of a constitutional discussion like this is all legal theories are discussed and analyzed,” Lauro said of the argument between Pence and Trump over electors. “And, once again, what President Trump was doing is within the reality and the realm of free speech. He’s asking his vice president, what about taking this course of action? Ultimately, his vice president rejected all of the proposals that were made… What President Trump did not do is direct Vice President Pence to do anything. He asked him in an aspirational way. Asking is covered by the First Amendment.”


Rep. Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.), who served as both a federal prosecutor and as lead counsel in the first Trump impeachment inquiry, also easily dismantled Lauro’s argument. “The First Amendment protects Donald Trump if he simply makes knowingly false statements about election fraud,” Goldman wrote on Twitter last week. “The First Amendment does not protect Donald Trump if he corruptly attempts to persuade, coerce or direct others to ACT on his knowingly false beliefs.”

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