Trump Defense Refuses To Say Whether Former President Lied About Election Fraud
After the close of arguments from Donald Trump’s impeachment defense, Senators were invited to submit questions for the defense, the House impeachment managers, or both, to answer. One question in particular appeared to fluster the defense counsel, and Trump’s attorney refused to answer it, instead deflecting to unrelated matters.
The question came from Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). He asked for the counsel for the defense to answer a key question. Reminding the court that House impeachment managers have referred to Trump’s ongoing false claims about election fraud as a ‘Big Lie,’ Sanders asked whether it’s true that Trump lied to his supporters repeatedly when he said that he actually won the election.
Michael van der Veen on question about who won the election: "My judgement? Who asked that?"
Senator Bernie Sanders: "I did."
Michael van der Veen: My judgement's irrelevant in this proceeding."
— CSPAN (@cspan) February 12, 2021
As you can see in the CSPAN clip above, attorney Michael van der Veen first demanded to know who had asked this of him, then dodged the question entirely, claiming that the answer doesn’t matter.
“My judgement’s irrelevant in this proceeding, ven der Veen says, shaking his head and grimacing. “It absolutely is.”
He then pivoted back to the question of whether Trump’s words were not just incitement, but “inciteful to the point of violence and riot” — certainly the central question of the proceeding, but by no means the only answerable point. Note that the defense counsel was willing to answer other questions such as whether Trump knew that Mike Pence’s life was in danger when he tweeted an attack on the then-Vice President, for example, which is also not directly about the connection between Trump’s January 6th speech and the insurrection attempt, but relevant to the case as a whole.
The defense was also completely willing to answer an entirely unrelated question about raising bail for Black Lives Matter protestors.
Lindsey Graham, Kevin Cramer, and Roger Marshall use an impeachment trial question to own the libs pic.twitter.com/TLh28RIEYL
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 12, 2021
This seems to negate any claims that van der Veen felt he must dodge the ‘Big Lie’ question due to irrelevance. However, for reasons spoken or unspoken, he did refuse to answer it. Former President Donald Trump has previously been reported to be watching the trial from his Mar-A-Lago home, and has reportedly already been frustrated with his defense.