Money can’t buy happiness, but it can certainly buy some decent legal representation. And yet, that appears to be lacking in former President Trump’s legal defense team, who have disappointed Trump from the jump.
Attorneys Michael van der Veen, Bruce Castor, and David Schoen spent much of day four of Trump’s Senate impeachment trial arguing that no reasonable person would have interpreted Trump’s January 6 speech before the Capitol riot as an incitement of violence, suggesting that his rhetoric was so typical of a politician’s parlance, that it should be regarded as utterly unremarkable.
But if this is so common, why isn’t it happening with alarming regularity? Does it not make sense, then, to point out that Trump repeatedly encouraging a keyed-up crowd up supporters to “fight” and take the country back—after months of convincing millions of supporters, via Twitter, that the presidential election was stolen from him, and that there’s no way Democrats will “take the White House” from him—might have been an outlier here? That the culmination of conspiracy-mongering and the speech helped incite a riot that left five people dead?
Trump’s defense argues no. But, as the Washington Post pointed out, in a recent Fox News interview, Schoen straight-up admitted that there was a notable difference:
From the Washington Post (emphasis ours):
In an interview on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program Tuesday, Trump attorney David Schoen speculated on the difference this time around. Schoen and Hannity were discussing examples of Democrats using the same word in different ways over the years, prompting Schoen to explain the difference.
“They’re using rhetoric that’s just as inflammatory, or more so,” he said of the Democrats. “The problem is, they don’t really have followers, you know, their dedicated followers and so — you know, when they give their speeches.”
The difference between Trump saying “fight” Jan. 6 was not that his supporters heard that particular word and, like an unwitting assassin in a bad action flick were suddenly triggered to push toward the Capitol. The problem was, instead, that Trump had actually conditioned his base of support for months to believe that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, and he insisted that morning that the final opportunity to avert that theft was at hand.
Trump convinced millions that one of the most important elections of their lifetimes was corrupted and bastardized, and that they alone could help put a stop to it on January 6, the day that the electoral votes were officiated. The facts are plain, and only a bad-faith reading can come to a conclusion other than “Trump incited this shit.”
But bad faith was the only thing Trump’s team was serving up Friday.
And there were even more inaccuracies presented by Team Trump. Here’s a small sampling, from the New York Times:
Michael van der Veen, one of the lawyers, misleadingly said that Mr. Trump did not express “a desire that the joint session be prevented from conducting its business” but rather “the entire premise of his remarks was that the democratic process would and should play out according to the letter of the law.” But Mr. Trump repeatedly urged former Vice President Mike Pence to “send it back to the States to recertify” and noted that he was “challenging the certification of the election.”
Mr. van der Veen also claimed that one of the first people arrested in connection with the riots at the Capitol “was the leader of antifa.” [...] The Federal Bureau of Investigation has said there is no evidence that supporters of the antifa movement had participated in the Jan. 6 siege.
Mr. van der Veen equated the Jan. 6 siege to the protests at Lafayette Square in front of the White House last summer, and presented a false timeline, claiming that “violent rioters” repeatedly attacked Secret Service officers and “at one point, pierced a security wall, culminating in the clearing of Lafayette Square.”
There was no breach.
Look, again, I’m no lawyer. I know how to spell Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s name, unlike Trump’s guys, yet I am but a humble bachelor’s degree holder. Still, it seems to me that if you’re trying to save your client’s ass, you should at least try not to present evidence that is easily refuted by reality and the words of your own colleague during a Hannity interview.
A final vote in Trump’s impeachment hearing is expected Saturday afternoon.