On Tuesday, former US President Donald Trump was indicted, and on Wednesday he entered a plea of not guilty to four counts related to accusations of him and his associates attempting to reverse the outcome of the 2020 election. The first court session for the case is set to take place on August 28.
Bill Barr, former US Attorney General, cautioned that it may not bode well for Trump if he opts to testify in the case about alleged election fraud to which he pleaded not guilty on Thursday. Barr, who served as Attorney General during both George W. Bush and Trump’s tenures, made these remarks in reference to a legal strategy proposed by Trump’s lawyer John Lauro.
Lauro suggested using an ‘advice of counsel’ defense in response to the charges, a strategy that Barr doubts will be implemented in the trial. This would necessitate Trump’s testimony under oath and also require him to waive his attorney-client privilege.
Post the indictment on Tuesday, Lauro was featured on various US media platforms. He defended Trump by arguing that the former president was acting upon what he believed to be reasonable counsel from his lawyer when he asked then-Vice President Mike Pence to interrupt the Congressional count of presidential electors.
“I think it would not come out very well for him,” Barr said when asked how he thinks Trump would perform on the stand. “I think he’d be subjected to very skilled cross-examination and I doubt he remembers all the different versions of events he’s given over the last few years,” Barr added.
Even though legal experts have broadly contested the claim by John Eastman, Trump’s lawyer, that Pence had the authority to halt the electoral vote count, Trump’s defense team would merely need to argue that Trump acted in good faith based on Eastman’s advice.
Despite the indictment, Trump is still the most favored contender to secure the Republican nomination for president. Earlier polls conducted following Trump’s two other indictments seem to suggest these legal battles have had minimal impact on the viewpoints of potential Republican primary voters.
“You have one of the leading constitutional scholars in the United States, John Eastman, say to President Trump, ‘This is a protocol that you can follow. It’s legal.’ That eliminates criminal intent,” Lauro argued.
Trump labeled Thursday, the day he left the court, as “a very sad day for America”. He contended that he is facing prosecution due to being the major political rival to current US President Joe Biden. “This is the persecution of a political adversary. This was never intended to occur in America,” Trump conveyed to the press.