Former President Donald Trump has no leg to stand on trying to argue that the First Amendment protects him from the January 6 prosecution, constitutional attorney Floyd Abrams explained on CNN Wednesday evening.
“So the burden of proof is on Jack Smith, the special counsel, his team, to prove that Trump knew that these election fraud allegations were false,” said anchor Jake Tapper. “Will that be difficult?”
“I think they have a strong case,” said Abrams. “There seems to be a great deal of evidence supporting the proposition that he did know. That he knew well that he indicated that in so many words, speaking to the vice president, Vice President Pence. He indicated it elsewhere. There’s a very strong case, and I think the government, the Department of Justice looks forward to proving it, that he knew very well what he was saying was not true.”
“You’re a celebrated First Amendment attorney,” said Tapper. “What did you make of the arguments we’re hearing from the Trump legal team and Trump supporters, Republican officials, saying it’s the criminalization of free speech, that Donald Trump has every night to share his beliefs, even if they are false, about how free and fair the election of 2020 was.”
“I think it is true that he has the right,” said Abrams — but, he added, “I don’t think that there is anything that the Department of Justice has done, which is inconsistent with that. I mean, if they had gone after him on the grounds that he said, I won the election, and Joe Biden lost the election, that is a false statement, but they are not prosecuting him because of that statement. They’re prosecuting him in this area because of a variety of his conduct which involves, in effect, supporting not counting real votes and counting phony votes. And a variety of other things which are not only untrue but disruptive of getting an accurate answer to the question of who won the election? Once you start down that road, once the president no less starts down that road of falsely saying and trying to support steps in support of that, which result in incorrect answer to the question of who won, then we’re in a lot of trouble.”
That sort of behavior, Abrams said, is “not what the First Amendment protects.”
“There’s been no effort to suppress him saying, you know, I really won this election,” added Abrams. “But there are lots of other things on this stage in this case, where he’s done things and supported things. We all heard the call to [Georgia], in which the president is in effect saying, don’t count those votes.”
Floyd Abrams says DOJ is “looking forward” to proving Trump lies