Former President Donald Trump’s legal defence is off to an interesting start, to say the least, as the Senate’s impeachment trial continues in its fourth day. Trump’s legal team, which he scrambled to put together just last week, have put forth a bumbling defence as his lawyers Bruce Castor, David Schoen, and Michael van der Veen spoke on behalf of the former president on Friday. It seemed fitting, though, as one person compared Trump’s defense to “one long unhinged Trump tweet being read by lawyers.”
That’s not a bad assessment of what went down inside the Senate chamber. Let's debrief (pun intended): Schoen attempted to argue that the Senate’s case against Trump relied mostly on “reported” allegations. Schoen presented a montage of clips of impeachment managers using the language of “reported,” “reportedly,” and “reports” during the trial when presenting evidence against Trump. “As any trial lawyer will tell you, ‘reportedly’ is a euphemism for, ‘I have no real evidence,’” argued Schoen. (Ok!)
He also accused House impeachment managers of manipulating their presentation against Trump, stating that they "created false representation of tweets." But the evidence he pointed to was never used, according to Business Insider. It should come as no surprise that the former president’s legal defence is a little bit of a mess, when they’ve had to build a case on shaky ground to begin with.
Meanwhile, van der Veen argued that Democratic lawmakers were no better than Trump when they objected to the Electoral College vote to certify his victory in 2017. The circumstances were completely different: Trump lost the popular vote by almost 2.9 million votes in the 2016 election. This time around he also failed to win enough electoral votes to win.
Nevertheless, van der Veen went on to share a video montage of Democrats objecting to Trump’s victories in battleground states, including House impeachment manager Jamie Raskin, in order to make the point that their objections were no better than Trump’s repeated attempts to overturn the 2020 election results. “To litigate questions of an election integrity within the system is not incitement to resurrection,” said van der Veen. Ah, yes, incitement to "resurrection." That’s what this whole trial is about. Regardless, objections from lawmakers over Trump’s 2016 win didn’t also lead to a bloody riot at the US Capitol.
The fact that Trump’s legal defence is less than perfect isn’t exactly a shock. Rudy Giuliani served as his personal attorney for years, while bringing questionable witnesses to courtrooms in his attempt to overturn election results. We also watched his hair melt down his face on live TV, as he quoted the film My Cousin Vinny. Giuliani certainly set a standard of entertainment when it comes to defending Trump in court — and that’s probably because anyone defending the former president has very little factual evidence on their side.
His current attorneys might even know that, too. Months before he joined Trump’s legal defence at the Senate impeachment trial, van der Veen, a lawyer based out of Philadelphia, sued Trump ahead of the 2020 election over his claims about widespread mail-in voter fraud, The Inquirer reported. In an August 20 email obtained by the news outlet, van der Veen reportedly wrote, “Donald Trump doesn’t want you to be able to vote. It’s time to stand up for what’s right.” Apparently “what’s right” at this point is winning an acquittal for the man who egged on his supporters as they violently stormed the Capitol.