Veteran GOP strategist Karl Rove warned Sunday that there’s a “strong likelihood” that President Donald Trump will be convicted by the Senate at his impeachment trial if the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, manages Trump’s defense.
Giuliani’s apparent argument — that Trump isn’t guilty of inciting violence because his baseless claims of a rigged election are actually legitimate — just won’t cut it, Rove told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.”
The House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to impeach Trump for “incitement of insurrection” after his followers stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. The Senate may begin a hearing on the charge as early as this week, after its new session begins Jan. 19.
The Wall Street Journal reported that some senators will argue they can no longer try Trump because he’s about to become a private citizen.
Trump’s chances of conviction at a Senate trial are “going to boil down” to the president’s defense, Rove said.
“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,’” he said.
“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,” said Rove, who pointed out that more than 50 courts have shot down those claims.
With that defense, “there’s a strong likelihood” that enough GOP senators would join the Democrats to convict Trump, he added.
Giuliani, who urged “trial by combat” in his speech to Trump supporters before they stormed the Capitol, underscored his baseless defense on ABC News on Saturday.
“They basically claimed that anytime [Trump] says voter fraud, or I do ... we’re inciting violence, that those words are fighting words because it’s totally untrue,” Giuliani said.
He told ABC that he’s part of the Trump’s defense team. “I’m involved right now … that’s what I’m working on,” Giuliani said.
But Hogan Gidley, the former press secretary for Trump’s campaign, appeared to contradict that later on Saturday, and said in a statement that Trump has yet to pick his defense team.
Check out more of Rove’s interview in the video clip up top.
CORRECTION: This article initially misidentified Chris Wallace as “Mike Wallace.”
Also on HuffPost
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.