Two lawmakers who served on the Jan. 6 select committee slammed Donald Trump’s lawyer John Lauro’s argument, made on MSNBC’s Meet The Press over the weekend, that his client, the former president, simply committed a “technical violation of the Constitution” but did not break any criminal laws when he pressured then Vice President Mike Pence to stop the 2020 electoral count.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) — who was also the lead manager in Trump’s second impeachment — on Sunday called Lauro’s argument “deranged.”
“First of all, a technical violation of the Constitution is a violation of the Constitution, Raskin said later on MSNBC’S “Meet The Press.” “The Constitution in six different places opposes insurrection … Our Constitution is designed to stop people from trying to overthrow elections and trying to overthrow the government.”
“[Trump] conspired to defraud the American people out of our right to an honest election by substituting the real legal process we have under federal and state law with counterfeit electors,” he added. “There are people in jail for several years for counterfeiting one vote … He tried to steal the entire election.”
Raskin also pushed back on another rhetorical argument deployed by Lauro.
“His lawyer is up there saying, ‘Oh that’s just a matter of him expressing his First Amendment rights,’” Raskin said. “That is a deranged argument.”
Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA), who was also on the Jan. 6 committee, offered his take on Smith’s case — and Lauro’s counterarguments to it — in a separate interview. “That’s just not true,” he said when asked about Lauro’s statement that the government will not be able to prove Trump had a corrupt intent when trying to overturn Joe Biden’s victory.
“I’m confident that the government will prove that,” Aguilar said on ABC News’ “This Week.” “Jack Smith, in his indictment, said that the former president deliberately disregarded the truth. That was his quote. And our January 6th Committee report showed time and time again that President Trump was told he lost the election by his campaign lawyers, by his advisers.”
Raskin and Aguilar’s comments come after Trump lawyer Lauro made the rounds on cable TV on Sunday, just days after the former President was hit with a four count indictment to overturn the 2020 election. Lauro claimed that Trump didn’t break any laws because he believed that he’d won the 2020 election and that the charges against him were a violation of his First Amendment rights to express that opinion — though Smith’s indictment carefully avoids First Amendment questions by focusing on the actions Trump took to interfere with the election, not his statements about it.
“A technical violation of the Constitution is not a violation of criminal law,” Lauro told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, adding it was “just plain wrong” to suggest that Trump had pressed Pence to break the law.
“These kinds of constitutional and statutory disagreements don’t lead to criminal charges,” Lauro said. “And one thing that Mr. Pence has never said is that he thought President Trump was acting criminally.”
“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,” Lauro said.