Former President Donald Trump has recently changed the way he describes his state of mind following the 2020 presidential election, and two legal experts believe it’s a sign that he’s trying out a new legal strategy.

In a column for The Bulwark, attorney Dennis Aftergut and Amherst College professor Austin Sarat pointed out that Trump’s declarative “I won the election” now includes a qualifier that he believes will get him off the hook with prosecutors as the reality of his Washington D.C. indictment sinks in.

As they explained, Trump’s assertion that he won the election is belied by evidence that he was advised that he had not. One witness stated the former president once admitted, “Can you believe I lost to this effing guy?”

With that in mind, Trump has started stressing that his belief that he’d won was opinion, rather than fact. He recently protested, “I believe I won that election by many, many votes, many, many hundreds of thousands of votes. That’s what I think,” followed by, “That’s my opinion, and it’s a strong opinion. And I think it’s borne out by the facts, and we’ll see that.”

But Aftergut and Sarat argued that this new legal defense is unlikely to fly in a courtroom.

“Facts can be verified; opinions, in contrast, are neither true nor false. They are just expressions of feelings or beliefs. They tell us about a person’s state of mind,” they wrote. “That’s why Trump, presumably on the advice of the lawyers preparing him for his upcoming criminal trials, is reframing what he said and did in the aftermath of the 2020 election.”

They added, “But the ‘it was just my opinion’ defense won’t work in court. And it signals doubt and weakness from a person who reportedly hates showing signs of vulnerability and who as a child was taught never to show it.”

The authors wrote that “alternative facts or suddenly trumped-up claims about opinions won’t save him,” and ultimately could come back to haunt him since he looks like he is changing his story.

“Trump’s change of tune will only have him looking even more like the untrustworthy person he is — the kind that juries do not hesitate to convict,” they predicted.

It remains to be seen whether Trump’s new legal strategy will be successful, but it is clear that he is facing a serious legal challenge. The Jan. 6 committee is continuing to investigate the events of that day, and it is possible that they will recommend additional charges against Trump.

In the meantime, Trump is also facing a number of civil lawsuits related to his efforts to overturn the election results. It is possible that he could be held liable for damages in these lawsuits, even if he is not convicted of any criminal charges.

The legal challenges facing Trump are significant, and it is unclear how he will ultimately fare. However, it is clear that he is now on the defensive, and his new legal strategy is a sign that he knows he is in trouble.

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