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Trump attorney vows strong defense against latest indictment: "We are in a constitutional abyss"

Trump attorney on Jan. 6 indictment
Former President Donald Trump's attorney John Lauro on special counsel's Jan. 6 indictment 06:48

Former President Donald Trump's attorney John Lauro characterized the second federal indictment of his client as an unprecedented criminalization of political speech and argued that Trump noticed irregularities and saw "the rules being changed" in the middle of the 2020 presidential election.

"This is the first time that political speech has been criminalized in the history of the United States," Lauro told "CBS Mornings" a day after a federal grand jury indicted Trump on felony counts related to his efforts to remain in power after losing the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

"It's the first time where a current president is using the criminal process to attack a former president on policy issues," Lauro said. "We are in a constitutional abyss right now. We've never seen this ... the president wants his day in court. Most importantly, he wants to get to the truth, which we will do in this case."

federal grand jury on Tuesday indicted Trump on four felony counts related to his efforts to remain in power after the 2020 election. Investigators from special counsel Jack Smith's office allege Trump and six unnamed co-conspirators tried to overturn President Joe Biden's victory at the polls, leading to the U.S. Capitol being stormed on Jan. 6, 2021.

The 45-page indictment charged Trump with conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding and conspiracy against rights. In a separate federal case, prosecutors allege that Trump mishandled classified documents at his Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago, and attempted to obstruct the federal investigation.  Trump denies any wrongdoing. 

Trump has also been charged by the Manhattan district attorney's office in a case centering around hush money payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels in the run-up to the 2016 election.

In connection with the most recent indictment, Lauro maintained that Trump's actions were protected by the First Amendment as he voiced concerns about the election process. 

The indictment also brings to light the relationship between Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence. Lauro said that Trump expects Pence to be a witness, but believes Trump's actions were constitutional.  

"Not once did he [Pence] say, 'Mr. Trump, what you're asking me is criminal. Don't do that,'" Lauro said. 

Trump is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday. Lauro addressed concerns about whether Trump would indeed appear in court in person, stating that the decision hinges on the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Marshals Service. 

"He's required to appear either virtually or in person on Thursday, and he'll do that," he said. 

Lauro said that to ensure a fair trial, the defense team may seek a change of venue to West Virginia or another part of the country.

"The president, like everyone sitting in this room, is entitled to a fair trial. And we're gonna get that," he said.  

In regards to whether he will continue his bid for president in the upcoming 2024 election, Lauro said Trump's plans haven't changed.

"In a case where there's a political prosecution, there's no doubt that he's going to continue to run," Lauro said. "None of these charges preclude him from being president of the United States. Not one." 

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