Donald Trump’s Acquittal Could Harm Criminal Investigations Into Incitement, Professor Says

In a piece for The New Yorker, Harvard Law School legal professor Jeannie Suk Gersen argued the possible acquittal of Donald Trump in the forthcoming impeachment trial could help the former president emerge stronger.

“Given the importance of condemning Trump’s destructive actions, the message sent by an acquittal may be worse than no trial,” she wrote.

“And, further, the result may complicate any effort by criminal-law enforcement to investigate and indict Trump for inciting insurrection or even levying war agains the U.S.”

According to Gersen, an acquittal could act as “confirmation” for Trump and his supporters’ unsubstantiated claims of widespread election fraud, which they believe is responsible for Democrat Joe Biden’s victory.

“We’ll get the worst of all worlds: a divisive impeachment trial that inflames half the country and that brings no vindication for the other half.”

As reported by Voice of America, Trump faces one count of “incitement of insurrection” for his purported role in the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6. The publication noted the case begins in the Senate on February 9 and will likely be shorter than the first that led to Trump’s acquittal.

Voice of America claimed the odds of Trump being convicted are “very slim.” The publication noted at least 17 Republicans need to join the 50 Democrats in support of convicting the former president — an unlikely scenario given that just five GOP lawmakers were supportive of initiating the case.

If Trump is convicted, the outlet predicted Democrats might attempt to invoke the 14th Amendment and attempt to prevent him from holding public office ever again.

Outside of impeachment, Trump and his allies are under the microscope for their possible roles in inciting the violence of the Capitol riot. Last month, District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine revealed that anyone who spoke at the Stop the Steal rally that preceded the storming of the historic American building could face charges for inciting violence. He underlined that anyone consistently talking about “fighting” might have crossed the line from protected speech into criminal incitement.

According to attorney Seth Abramson, the FBI is currently focusing on the events that took place in early January — the January 5 Stop the Steal and American Phoenix Project rallies, in particular — to determine who was involved in the riot. Notably, two men who were arrested for conspiracy relating to the storming of the Capitol are linked to longtime GOP operative Roger Stone, a close ally of Trump’s who worked on his 2016 campaign.

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