Fox News contributor Karl Rove lamented on Sunday that if Rudy Giuliani leads President Donald Trump’s impeachment defense in the Senate, there is a “strong likelihood” the president will be convicted.
Over the weekend, Giuliani—who infamously called for “trial by combat” hours before the Capitol riot—told ABC News that he’s on the president’s second impeachment defense team and that he will argue Trump couldn’t have incited a riotous mob to attack the Capitol to stop Congress from certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s election.
The impeachment team’s defense of the president, according to Giuliani, will be to prove that Trump’s baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud—which have been rejected by dozens of courts—are actually true.
“They basically claimed that anytime [Trump] says voter fraud, voter fraud —or I do, or anybody else—we’re inciting to violence; that those words are fighting words because it’s totally untrue,” Giuliani said. “Well, if you can prove that it’s true, or at least true enough so it’s a legitimate viewpoint, then they are no longer fighting words.”
During Sunday’s broadcast of Fox News Sunday, anchor Chris Wallace asked Rove—a longtime Republican strategist who has criticized Trump’s “stolen” election rhetoric—if he felt there was a chance 17 Republicans could join Senate Democrats to convict Trump and potentially keep him from running for office again.
With Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly open to the idea of convicting the president for incitement, Rove said Giuliani’s defense strategy would cause a lot of GOP lawmakers to jump on board the impeachment train.
“Rudy Giuliani charted a very bad course for the president in the morning papers when he suggested that the argument was going to be, ‘Well, there couldn’t have been incitement because all the charges of widespread voter fraud are true,’” Rove sighed. “Well, those charges and the so-called experts that the campaign has mustered to advocate them have been rejected by over 50 courts, with judges appointed by President Trump, President Obama, President Bush, President Clinton, and I think even one Reagan justice.”
“If it’s the Rudy Giuliani defense, there’s a strong likelihood that more than 17 Republicans will, because essentially that argument is: ‘This was justified, the attack on the Capitol and the attempt to end the congressional hearing on certifying the election was justified because all these charges are true.’ And frankly, they aren’t,” he added.
Rove went on to say that Trump and his allies have had every opportunity to prove their baseless allegations in court and failed to do so over and over, reiterating that if Giuliani goes down this road “it raises the likelihood of more than 17 Republicans voting for conviction.”
While Giuliani has insisted that he has been tapped to lead Trump’s defense and was seen visiting the White House this weekend, Trump campaign spokesperson Hogan Gidley appeared to contradict the former New York City mayor’s claims.
“President Trump has not yet made a determination as to which lawyer or law firm will represent him for the disgraceful attack on our Constitution and democracy, known as the ‘impeachment hoax,’” the spokesman tweeted Saturday night. “We will keep you informed.”