Rove: Chances of conviction rise if Giuliani represents Trump in Senate impeachment trial

Republican strategist Karl RoveKarl Christian RoveThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Ahead: One-shot vax, easing restrictions, fiscal help The Hill's Morning Report - Disaster politics hobble Cruz, Cuomo Trump-McConnell rift divides GOP donors MORE suggested on Sunday that President TrumpDonald TrumpSouth Carolina Senate adds firing squad as alternative execution method Ex-Trump aide Pierson won't run for Dallas-area House seat House Oversight panel reissues subpoena for Trump's accounting firm MORE is at higher risk of the Senate voting to convict him in his second impeachment trial if his personal attorney Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiGiuliani again suspended from YouTube over false election claims Sacha Baron Cohen calls out 'danger of lies, hate and conspiracies' in Golden Globes speech Biden administration buys 100,000 doses of Lilly antibody drug MORE spearheads his defense.

Rove said during a “Fox News Sunday” appearance that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTanden withdraws nomination as Biden budget chief Boehner book jacket teases slams against Cruz, Trump Gun violence prevention groups optimistic background check legislation can pass this Congress MORE’s (R-Ky.) statements on the trial, in which he did not instruct Senate Republicans to vote against conviction, are “a sign that every Republican senator needs to take this seriously.”

“I think it’s all going to boil down to what the president’s defense is,” Rove added.

“Rudy Giuliani charted a very bad course in the morning papers,” Rove said, pointing to comments by the attorney suggesting the president could not have incited the deadly riots at the Capitol earlier this month because his unproven claims of election theft were true. The House last week impeached Trump over his role in the rioting, making him the only president to be impeached twice. 

The election fraud argument, Rove noted on Sunday, “has been rejected by over 50 courts,” including some Trump appointees.

A Giuliani defense, he added, "raises the likelihood of more than 17 Republicans voting for conviction." 

Giuliani also told ABC News that he's working on Trump's impeachment defense and that the president could not have incited the crowds because they did not immediately march on the Capitol after his speech at a rally.

“You'd have to have people running out. You'd have to have people running out of that frozen speech right up to the Capitol, and that's basically incitement,” he said.

The former New York mayor spoke at the same rally and called for “trial by combat.”

"I’m willing to stake my reputation, the president is willing to stake his reputation, on the fact that we’re going to find criminality [in the election]," he said at the time.

Speaking to The Hill’s Brett Samuels last week, Giuliani insisted the term was a reference to the HBO series “Game of Thrones” and not a literal invocation of violence.