David Schoen said he wants to discuss the “hatred” and “vitriol” that Democrats have for Donald Trump. He then proceeded to discuss neither.
Schoen, who previously represented the one-time convict, and some-time Trump associate Roger Stone, instead suggested the impeachment was rushed.
The impeachment seeks to bar Trump from holding public office again, Schoen said, and also seeks to disenfranchise “75m voters”.
Schoen then complained that the previously unseen footage Democrats released yesterday – which showed members of Congress, and the vice-president, fleeing for their lives – should have been given to Trump’s legal team first.
Schoen continued with the theme that the impeachment was rushed. He played a clip showing impeachment managers quoting news reports as examples that evidence that Democrats cannot be trusted.
The impeachment case is “preposterously wrong on the facts”, Van der Veen said. He added, for the second time, that the impeachment trial is “plainly unconstitutional”. (Again, the Senate, including six Republicans, found this week that the trial is constitutional.)
This trial is “constitutional cancel culture”, Van der Veen said, a phrase that possibly sounded better in his head. Van der Veen then tags in his colleague, David Schoen.
Van der Veen, Trump’s lawyer, posted a video mash up of Donald Trump calling for law and order at certain times over the past four years, contrasted with some Democrats using words like “fight”.
Van der Veen continued by claiming: “One of the first people arrested was the leader of Antifa.” Van der Veen was referring to the anti-facist movement that does not have a leader.
Trump’s lawyer continues by drawing a false equivalence between Trump’s supporters seeking to attack politicians as they besieged the US Capitol, and Black Lives Matter protesters who have held demonstrations demanding equal rights and an end to racism.
Van der Veen blamed a “small group” for the riot, not Trump, and claimed most protesters on January 6 were peaceful.
Michael Van der Veen, a lawyer for Donald Trump, kicked off Trump’s defense by railing against the impeachment trial.
The trial, according to Van der Veen, is an “unjust and blatantly unconstitutional act of political vengeance”. This argument overlooks the fact that the Senate, including a number of Republicans, voted at the start of the week that the trial is constitutional.
Anyway – the impeachment of Trump, who is accused of inciting an insurrection also “further divides our nation”, Van der Veen said.
“No thinking person could seriously believe” Trump’s speech to his supporters on the morning of the Capitol riot “was in any way an incitement to violence or insurrection,” Van der Veen said. Democrats have argued the opposite.
Van der Veen said: “The president’s remarks explicitly encouraged those in attendance to exercise their rights peacefully and patriotically”.
•The impeachment trial of Donald Trump continued on Friday, as lawyers for the president began to present their defense.
•That defense is not expected to last very long. Trump’s lawyers are expected to use about four hours of their possible sixteen – apparently the defense team believe they have enough Republican votes to avoid a conviction.
•Lawyers for Trump will reportedly concede that Capitol riot was traumatic and unacceptable, but claim that Trump was not responsible for the actions of his supporters.
•House impeachment managers rested their case against Trump on Thursday. Democrats argued that the US Capitol riot was a direct result of Trump’s rhetoric, not just on January 6, but throughout his presidency.
•Joe Biden has been reluctant to weigh in on the impeachment, but said on Friday: “I’m just anxious to see what my Republican friends do, if they stand up.” Biden told reporters he did not plan to call any Republican senators.
Mike Pence has “no plans to condemn Trump or to speak out during the Senate impeachment trial”, the Washington Post reported, despite the near miss the former-vice president experienced on January 6.
Video shown by impeachment managers this week showed Pence fleeing as Trump’s supporters broke into the Capitol, but the close call was apparently not enough to spur Pence into action.
According to the Post:
[Pence] is still operating from a playbook of obsequiousness that has become second nature — never airing grievances publicly, and delivering his often rose-colored counsel to Trump only in private, one-on-one settings.
Pence has received praise from some for not attempting to break the law on January 6 – when he did not block the results of the presidential election. That praise seemingly overlooks Pence’s four years of not doing anything in the face of Trump’s most egregious policies.
As we gear up for Trump’s lawyers to present their defense, here’s a handy clip of congressman Jamie Raskin, the lead impeachment manager, making the case that Trump incited his supporters on January 6.
Yesterday Raskin wrapped up the House’s case against the president, asking senators:
“If you think this is not impeachable, what is? What would be?
Raskin added: “If you don’t find this a high crime and misdemeanor today, you have set a new, terrible standard for presidential misconduct in the United States of America.”
Trump’s legal team will kick off their defense at 12pm ET, and are expected to wrap up their arguments today.
Some people online are getting very excited about events at the White House, where Jill Biden has installed some heart-shaped signs ahead of Valentine’s Day.
Some of the signs bear traditional Valentine’s messages like “love”, but others have messages saying “strength” and “healing”, possibly so single people don’t feel left out.
If you like that kind of thing, here’s a video of Joe Biden, wearing jeans and a leather jacket, and Jill Biden, in smarter attire, walking among the signs this morning. Their dogs are there too:
Donald Trump’s lawyers have injected “searing criticism of Democrats” into their arguments, Associated Press reports – doing so at the behest of their client.
According to AP Trump’s team is hoping “to convince not only GOP senators but also viewers of the trial around the country that Trump’s second impeachment is fueled by ‘hatred’ of the former president”.
To that end the lawyers are expected to call out Democrats they say similarly incited violence in cities around the country.
We heard earlier that Trump’s legal defense will center on the argument that the former president had nothing to do with the riot itself, but lawyers for Trump also seemed determine to damage Democrats as much as possible as they lay out their arguments.
David Schoen, a member of Trump’s legal team, said he believed Democrats were effectively making the public relive the tragedy in a way that “tears at the American people” and impedes efforts at unity, AP reported.
This is Adam Gabbatt taking over from Martin Belam.
The US Interior Department will start consultations with Native American tribal leaders next month on Covid-19, economic security, racial justice and climate change, report Reuters. It is part of efforts py President Joe Biden to get more tribal input in federal policy deliberations.
Biden issued an executive order on 26 January aimed at strengthening relations between the federal government and Native American tribes.
The Interior Department, which oversees the country’s tribal and federal lands, will be led by New Mexico Representative Deb Haaland, who would become the first Native American to head a cabinet-level agency if she is confirmed by Congress.
Some tribes felt sidelined after major decisions by former president Donald Trump’s administration, such as approving the Dakota Access Pipeline and drastically reducing the size of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah that had been created with input of an inter-tribal council.
A 2019 Government Accountability Office report found serious lapses in outreach to tribes, especially on infrastructure projects.
Native American tribes have also been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic due to health disparities and higher rates of poverty. Under Trump tribes received $8 billion in coronavirus aid, but only after major delays caused by a legal dispute.
The consultations will take place by video in the week of March 8.
“Meaningful consultations ensure we center Tribal voices as we address the health, economic, racial justice and climate crises – all of which disproportionately impact American Indian and Alaska Natives,” said Ann Marie Bledsoe Downes, the department’s designated Tribal Governance Officer and Deputy Solicitor for Indian Affairs.
Haaland is awaiting her confirmation hearing, which has not yet been scheduled.
A few western state Republican senators have said they are likely to oppose her because of her support for policies like the Green New Deal championed by the progressive Left, but she is still expected to have enough support to be confirmed.