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The problem with using an insanity defense for Donald Trump
By Curt_Anderson
February 17, 2023 3:10 pm
Category: Law

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If Trump is indicted (and the indications are that he will be) in the Georgia election fraud/tampering case, he might try an insanity defense and claim that he sincerely believed that he won more votes than Biden in Georgia. Likewise a bank robber could argue that he sincerely believed he was retrieving money that was rightfully his. Proving the sincerity of such beliefs in both cases is problematic.

The sincere bank robber would still have a difficult time justifying holding a gun to the teller's head, no matter what the rationale. In a similar way, Trump will have problems justifying the pressure he put on the secretary of state or implementing his fake elector scheme. The legal way to address disputed elections is to demand and pay for a recount, if it doesn't happen automatically.

Trump may use the thin veil of a defense that he really believed he won the election. But if he is implicated in connection to the January Sixth assault on the Capitol, denying that he used the bully pulpit to direct supporters to interrupt the peaceful of transfer of power would be a problem. If he sincerely believed that he won the election then it it's not credible for him to deny that he no intentions of instigating his supporters to hunt down the vice president and members of Congress.

After all, if there really was reason to believe the election was illicit then it would make sense that Trump would try to delay the ceremonial counting of the electoral college votes. But sending a angry mob to the Capitol is not among the approved ways of challenging an election.

It's a similar story with the Mar-a-Lago classified documents. He can claim that he sincerely believed that he could declassify documents "just by thinking about it", but that doesn't excuse making false statements to the FBI and not returning classified documents when ordered to.

The bottom line is that Trump might use his supposed sincere beliefs and delusions to explain his motivations, but it doesn't justify his methods. If Trump is ever on the witness stand, he will struggle to have a judge and/or jury find him not guilty as he alternates between insisting he believes certain unfounded claims and taking the Fifth.

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