Donald Trump’s legal team is considering a bold move that would put Republican members of Congress on the stand in his defense by questioning them about their own Jan. 6 objections, DailyMail.com has learned.
The move would have Trump’s legal team questioning lawmakers who voted against certifying Joe Biden’s victory, such as Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, as part of his federal criminal trial in Washington, DC.
This would be an attempt to persuade potential jurors that Trump was not an outlier in promoting election fraud because he represented a widely held view within his party.
“They were essential to the recognition of objections, because you had to have a representative from the Senate and the House (to trigger a floor debate).”
“So the senators’ objections were obviously important, very important,” a source familiar with the thinking of Trump’s legal team told DailyMail.com.
The move — which would have to be approved by a federal judge and could face objections from prosecutors — could allow the former president to cover up his own post-election conduct by having his lawyer interview people like Hawley and Cruz.
The two men were among the GOP members who were instrumental in organizing a political showdown in Congress as Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol.
A source close to former President Donald Trump’s legal team said it plans to call as witnesses lawmakers who echoed some of Trump’s election fraud claims that were rejected in court. They could provide a defense by revealing the environment in place during Trump’s election overturn efforts.
That effort would not involve questioning lawmakers about why they voted the way they did — a position that could touch on questions of separation of powers and the Constitution’s “Speech or Debate” clause.
But it could examine “the objections that you see up to and including D6 (January 6) and to the extent that elected officials have legitimate objections, it is difficult to criticize the president for having the same or similar objections,” he said. said the source. .
“So that would really be the theory and it would amount to having good faith objections throughout the J6 period,” the source added.
If upheld, it could have political implications beyond the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C., providing a platform for Republicans facing their own re-elections and giving them a chance to strengthen their loyalty to Trump , who leads all Republicans in this country by a wide margin. presidential elections.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) gestures toward a crowd of President Donald Trump supporters gathered outside the U.S. Capitol to protest the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. He and other lawmakers who voted against electoral votes could be called as witnesses
Figures, including Senator Ted Cruz (Republican of Texas), have explored ways to postpone the January 6 electoral count. Cruz requested 10 days for emergency audit of ‘disputed states’
Trump’s team believes it can demonstrate that “in the political environment up until January 6, elected officials had objections in very good faith, based on what they considered to be anomalies or illegal acts in relation to in the election,” the source said.
Even some Republican officials who would later declare Biden won the election spoke publicly before Jan. 6 about fraud allegations. (Former Trump AG Bill Barr, who told the House on January 6 that allegations of committee fraud made by Trump’s lawyers were “bullshit,” had raised concerns before the election about ballots postal vote).
The tactic could include examining efforts by a group of senators, including Hawley and Cruz, to rally fellow senators to delay certification during Trump’s final days to further investigate allegations of election fraud, even after they were rejected by a series of courts.
Former Trump economic adviser Peter Navarro, who is currently on trial for defying a congressional subpoena, described the delaying tactic as the “Green Bay sweep.”
The move to call elected Republican witnesses could very well extend to the state legislative level — where many Republican lawmakers also voted against it during the state certification process, bringing forward some of the same allegations of fraud as members of Trump’s 2020 advisers who now face criminal charges. charges.
These claims went hand in hand with the “fake elector” system, whereby states that voted for Biden sent lists of Trump’s alternate electors to Washington.
Trump’s defense must strategize legally while unloading millions of documents turned over by prosecutors, as he also faces criminal charges in other jurisdictions, including Georgia, where the former president have a photo taken.
It was a blockbuster trial in which U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan warned Trump’s lawyers that she wanted to try to keep politics at bay – rejecting appeals about Trump’s busy schedule and comparing him to a professional athlete who faces charges despite his match schedule.
She set Trump’s trial date for March 4, the day before Super Tuesday, prompting howls of complaints from Trump’s lawyers about the need to sift through the 12 million documents provided by the government in the process. of the preliminary investigation process in the context of a complex case with historical implications.
Lawmakers, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), have fought to be drawn into court cases related to Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. Graham, who voted to certify the disputed states’ votes, struggled to secure his testimony in Georgia, where Trump and 18 other defendants are charged with racketeering conspiracy related to efforts to overturn the election there.
The Supreme Court denied his attempt to block a subpoena, but that came after a federal judge ruled there would be protections against him being questioned about his legislative function, because of the speech or debate of the Constitution.
Although elected lawmakers are involved in legal cases, there is good reason to believe they should comply with a subpoena, according to the source.
But unlike some of these other cases, there is reason to believe that congressional Republicans would relish the opportunity to make headlines by testifying in support of Trump. Party members supported Trump through two impeachments, sought to discredit the House’s January 6 committee, then questioned President Biden and his family. Some senior House members with investigative committees have said they intend to investigate special counsel Jack Smith.
“I have a feeling that many of these elected officials…would appreciate the opportunity to testify on these important issues and confirm the reasons why they opposed certain aspects of the election,” the source said.
Their testimony would seek to counter the narrative Smith sketched when announcing Trump’s indictment last month on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to disenfranchise voters and conspiracy to obstruct an official procedure.
Smith called it an “unprecedented assault on the seat of American democracy” that was “fueled by lies” aimed at obstructing the electoral count.
The burden on the government “is to demonstrate that the president acted corruptly, which to some extent is not a clearly defined term, but suggests that he was simply acting for an obstructive purpose unrelated to an appropriate government function. And if elected officials say, ‘Hey, I was just doing my job. I raised these objections’… it’s pretty hard to say that President Trump was acting with corrupt intent,” the source added.
The DOJ could try to object and Judge Chutkan could try to impose limits on the number of witnesses. At a hearing last month, she said both sides estimated a trial could take four to six weeks. Calling dozens of witnesses and arguing over their testimony could further delay cases or absorb more court time.
Opponents were able to testify about their allegations of fraud, which have been repeatedly rejected by the courts, but also about the changes made by the state to electoral laws in the run-up to the elections in the context of the pandemic.