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What Does Trump Believe?

US President-elect Donald Trump yells out to the media from the steps of the clubhouse of Trump National Golf Club November 19, 2016 in Bedminster, New Jersey. (Photo by Don EMMERT / AFP) (Photo by DON EMMERT/AFP via Getty Images)
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June 13, 2022 12:32 p.m.

I was about to respond to this email from TPM Reader JR. But I decided it made more sense to respond here.

Lots being written about the importance of establishing whether Trump “knew” he lost.  Greg Sargeant this morning, Slate over the weekend (does Trump really ever “know” anything”) etc etc.  I don’t touch criminal law but it seems to me that focus is too narrow.  I would think Trump could have had the requisite criminal intent to use illegal means to overturn an election even if he “believed” the election was being stolen from him. That is, if he knew or was wilfully blind to the fact that he or his team were using unlawful means to “contest” the election, wouldn;t that be enough?  If he had warnings his words and actions would incite the violence1/6 or were in coordination with plans for the assault on the Capitol, why does it matter whether he “knew” he lost or not?  

Like JR, I’m not a lawyer. So I can’t speak to the internal logic of particular case law or legal standards about mens rea and consciousness of guilt. But I think the way to approach this question is to work it from the other side, as it were.

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