Donald Trump's lawyers are already at work on a defense of possible criminal charges from the Justice Department
Donald Trump (Photo by Mandel Ngan for AFP)

Donald Trump's lawyers apparently believe that the ex-president will be criminally charged for his attempt to overthrow the 2020 election and subsequent efforts to stop the Electoral College vote count.

Rolling Stone reported Sunday evening that three different sources wrote to the magazine to report the Trump lawyers are at work on strategy and defense options if the Justice Department charges the former president.

The work began months ago, but according to the report, after former Mark Meadows aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified, the legal team's "effort intensified." After Hutchinson's testimony, Trump went off on her, saying that she wasn't mentally sound and calling her "crazy." He implied that the only reason that she was coming forward with the accusations was to promote her own career. She has actually been under threat and intimidation since it was revealed she gave information to the committee and is now in hiding.

The lawyers are discussing ways that they can find someone else to blame instead of Trump.

"Trump got some terrible advice from attorneys who, some people would argue, should have or must have known better," one of the sources told Rolling Stone. "An ‘advice of counsel’ defense would be a big one."

One of the things explained by Andrew Weissmann, a former prosecutor with Robert Mueller's team, is that the evidence is showing former Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) could end up being the fall guy. Witnesses have testified that he was in every meeting with Trump dealing with Jan. 6, the so-called "Stop the Steal" rally, and other schemes.

"The timeline is, I think, the key because there is a ticking clock," Weissmann said. "And I think that what you're ultimately going to have to see is the department trying to get witnesses and putting pressure on or charging people like Mark Meadows."

Former prosecutor Glenn Kirschner explained that Meadows is only going to be the fall guy if the DOJ allows him to be.

"Should he be charged for his crimes, absolutely, but does that mean the Department of Justice should stop at Mark Meadows? Absolutely not," said Kirschner. "Donald Trump is the hub, of the hub and spoke conspiracy that I've been talking about, including on your show for a very long time. Donald Trump is the hub from which all of these criminal spokes radiated. You know, we heard about this battle royale in the Oval Office with Team Normal, the folks that passed for adult in the Trump administration, and the crazies, the QAnon people, the Powells and Giulianis and you got the sense from listening to the evidence that everyone in the room knew that there was absolutely no evidence supporting these absurd claims of election fraud."

Another legal strategy they're discussing is saying that Trump has a First Amendment right to say whatever he wants and to petition his government or political grievances. Rolling Stone cited the sources saying that such arguments were viewed internally as the best way to fight back against the "fake electors" scheme.

In a statement after the eighth public hearing of the House Select Committee, the former president released a statement admitting to the attempt to overthrow the Electoral College count.

"This was a major event because everybody ganged up and said that Mike had no choice, he could not send the slates back to the States (which is all I suggested he do)," he said.

A former top lawyer in Trump's White House, Ty Cobb, said in June that he thinks criminal prosecutions are possible.

"Whether they are advisable is a more difficult consideration for the country,” he said. “Possible for Trump and [Mark] Meadows certainly. And for the others, including lawyers, who engaged fraudulently in formal proceedings or investigations.”

The Trump insider was dismissive that it goes beyond good lawyering, "We’ve gotten to a point where if you don’t think criminal charges are at least somewhat likely, you are not serving the [former] president’s best interests."

Read the full report at Rolling Stone.