On Tuesday, as had been anticipated, Special Counsel Jack Smith unveiled another federal criminal indictment against former President Donald Trump, this time with regard to his efforts to challenge the disputed results of the 2020 election and in relation to the riot-delayed congressional certification of those election results.
According to Trump's attorney John Lauro, however, Smith's criminal case provides the former president with a unique and unexpected opportunity to relitigate the 2020 election and his claims about fraud and unconstitutional election procedure changes that state legislatures never authorized, the Western Journal reported.
In the Tuesday interview with Fox News host Bret Baier, Lauro also repeatedly emphasized his view that Smith's indictment against Trump was actually a direct assault on free speech and the First Amendment and that President Joe Biden's administration had now "criminalized" political opposition and normal post-election challenges.
"The one thing I will say, though, in 2020, Mr. Trump's campaign had a few weeks to gear up and present evidence, and it was very difficult," Lauro told Baier at one point in the lengthy interview. "We now have the ability in this case to issue our own subpoenas, and we will relitigate every single issue in the 2020 election in the context of this litigation."
"It gives President Trump an opportunity that he has never had before, which is to have subpoena power since January 6 in a way that can be exercised in federal court," the attorney continued.
A few moments later, in response to a question about reports that Trump was diverting campaign cash to cover his mounting legal expenses, Lauro said, "The bottom line is, the way that they're trying to take out Donald Trump is through the legal process. So, he's being forced to spend money on legal defense which should be spent on the discussion of critical ideas and critical issues. People want to hear the issues. They don't want to relitigate 2020."
"And that's exactly what the special counsel -- I should say [Attorney General] Merrick Garland. Merrick Garland and the Biden administration had to sign off on this indictment. And what they have really done is invited now a relitigation of 2020, but this time in a criminal court, which is unprecedented," he added.
"It's a terribly tragic day that we find ourselves in, where political speech now has been criminalized, where an existing Justice Department, Merrick Garland, has a boss. His name is Joe Biden," Lauro said at the beginning of his Fox News appearance. "And Joe Biden is running against Donald Trump and losing currently. And now we have that Justice Department indicting President Trump for actions that he took as the executive -- as the chief executive of the United States with respect to public policy matters."
"So, now we have the criminalization and the weaponization of public policy and political speech by one political party over another," he continued. "And it's not surprising when it comes. It comes on the heels of unbelievable allegations against Mr. Biden and his son, as well as the fact that Donald Trump is leading in the polls right now."
"So it's really an astounding document," Lauro said of the indictment, "because, for the first time in American history, a former president is being prosecuted by a political opponent, who wields the power of the criminal justice system, for what he believed in and the policies and the political speech that he carried out as president."
"This is unprecedented. It affects not just Donald Trump. It affects every American, who now realizes that the First Amendment is under assault. It's under attack by the Biden administration," he added. "We now have a political incumbent who is attacking Americans for their beliefs, attacking Americans for their speech, and attacking Americans for their politics. This has never happened in the history of our country, and it's playing out right now."
At another point in the interview, after Baier read part of the indictment which asserts that former President Trump knew his allegations of election fraud were false but continued to spread the dishonest claims anyways, Lauro said, "I would like them to try to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Donald Trump believed that these allegations were false."
"What did he see in real-time? He saw changes in election procedure in the middle of the game being carried out by executive level -- people at the state level, election officials, but not the state legislatures," he continued. "He had advice of counsel, a very detailed memorandum from a constitutional expert who said: 'Mr. President, these states are complaining about what happened. You, as the executive, have the ability to ask Vice President Pence to pause the vote on January 6, have these states audit and recertify, and, that way, we know ultimately who won the election.'"
"And that's the only thing that President Trump suggested. There's nothing unlawful about that. He was entitled to do that, as the chief executive officer carrying out the laws, and nothing about that was obstructive," Lauro said, and added, "He's being indicted for free speech. He's being indicted for objecting to the way that the 2020 election was carried out. And any American that takes that view should be equally concerned, are they next? Because the reality is that, if a president can be indicted for free speech, then anybody can be indicted."