Jan. 6 evidence so strong that not even a Trump-supporting juror could refuse to convict: legal experts
Donald Trump at a campaign rally at the Giant Center in 2019. (Evan El-Amin / Shutterstock.com)

The recent guilty verdict against the first Jan. 6 insurrectionist to stand trial shows that a jury would have no trouble convicting Donald Trump for his own role in fomenting the violence, according to a pair of legal experts.

A jury took only three hours to convict Guy Reffitt on five counts, including obstruction of an official proceeding and interfering with police in a riot, and legal experts Laurence Tribe and Dennis Aftergut argued in a new column for The Guardian that the evidence satisfies all statutory requirements to convict the former president of conspiring to defraud the United States and obstructing a congressional proceeding.

"The mountain of already public evidence would surely lead a [District of Columbia] jury to reject Trump’s defense that that he honestly believed his own 'big lie' that widespread ballot fraud had deprived him of victory, and therefore that his intent was innocent," the pair wrote.

Trump knew that 60-plus court challenges to his loss had failed, five of his own officials told him unequivocally that his fraud claims were false and Georgia’s secretary of state Brad Raffensperger told him the same thing -- and Trump still pressed him to "find" exactly one more vote that he needed to overturn that state's election results.

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"That call alone screams 'corrupt' intent," Tribe and Aftergut wrote. "And the barely veiled way Trump threatened Raffensperger in that call reinforces Trump’s 'evil' state of mind."

Trump told a provable and telling lie during his speech before the riot by telling his supporters he would join them in a march on the Capitol, which he made no plans to do, and Tribe and Aftergut argued that further proved his corrupt intent.

"A properly instructed jury would likely conclude that this lie reflected Trump’s desire to remain far from the violence he had encouraged, giving him both physical safety and plausible deniability and further evidencing a 'corrupt' state of mind," they wrote.

The former president then waited for three hours to call off his rampaging supporters, despite the violence playing out on television screens and entreaties from family members and allies to speak out, and he called the rioters "patriots" and justified their grievance when he finally did issue a statement.

"A federal judge wrote in an 18 February opinion that 'a reasonable observer could read that tweet as ratifying the violence and other illegal acts that took place that day,'" Tribe and Aftergut wrote.

The pair also knocked down Trump's possible defenses of "willful ignorance" and "innocent intent," saying that evidence plainly showed he knew his fraud claims were false and that legal advice from attorney John Eastman was unreasonable.

"Far from being reasonable, Eastman’s claim that [former vice president Mike] Pence was 'the ultimate arbiter' of the electoral count was utter 'nonsense,'" they wrote. "Trump would be unable to produce any lawyer who supported that constitutionally absurd theory and could withstand even amateur cross-examination."

Tribe and Aftergut don't even believe a single Trump supporter could refuse to convict.

"Jurors are instructed to use their common sense, and the jury in Reffitt did just that," they wrote.: "A DC jury would do the same in a trial of the conspiracy’s central actor. Once all the evidence is expeditiously gathered, with or without the special counsel that we recommend, the Justice Department must indict him."

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