Trump Calls Civil Rights Leader Julian Bond As Posthumous Defense ‘Witness’

The defense legal team of former president Donald Trump is trying to use the legal precedent set in 1966 by a case involving civil rights leader Julian Bond

In his second impeachment trial, the Trump legal team says that the ruling could exonerate Trump from the allegations against him. 

Bond’s son, Michael Julian Bond, says Trump’s legal team is reaching. 

“I’m very surprised, and they must not have a very good defense,” Michael Julian Bond told 11Alive News on Monday (February 8). “Because my father’s case, and the case I assume is being presented on behalf of the former president, are very, very different… What I see them doing is grasping at straws. My father’s case is very different.” 

In 1965, Julian Bond had been elected to represent Atlanta in the Georgia House of Representatives. Before Bond could be sworn into office, he was asked by a reporter for his opinion on the Vietnam War, to which Bond responded he opposed.

“And due to the public statements, state legislators refused to seat him,” Emory University School of Law Professor Fred Smith said. 

At the time, state legislators accused Bond of encouraging young men to break the law and avoid the draft that was in place. 

Bond insisted he didn’t do that, and sued the Georgia House Speaker, James “Sloppy” Floyd

“A federal court ruled in favor of the state House,” Smith said of the Bond vs. Floyd case. But the case eventually made its way to the Supreme Court where the nation’s highest court ruled in favor of Bond, and he took his seat in the state House, becoming the first African American to do so in Georgia.

One of the central issues in the case Professor Smith said is, “To what extent is a public official’s speech protected by the First Amendment?”

In Trump’s case, his legal team says he was using his own First Amendment rights at a rally hours before a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol building on January 6. 

One of the biggest differences Michael Julian Bond, who is a city council member in Atlanta, is that his father was speaking to a reporter on an individual basis, not standing in front of the crowd after a failed reelection campaign and subsequent feat to overturn those same election results.  

“My father was not addressing a crowd, or directing individuals, he was simply asked for his opinion,” Bond said. 

Professor Smith says Trump’s legal defense team’s attempt at using this case is a “quite creative citation,” noting that it does not necessarily help Trump’s case in the second impeachment trial. 

“The [former] president’s lawyers are looking for cases in which public speech by a public official has, in face, been protected speech,” Smith said. Trump’s lawyers believe this might be a good fit for their arguments. 

Michael Julian Bond says he thinks his father would’ve been amused at the thought. 

“He would have a wry smile, based on them grasping in his direction to try to save the former president,” he said. 

Photo: Getty Images 

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