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Tag: trump impeachment defense

WATCH: Did Trump’s Lawyer Purloin Senate Coasters After Verdict?

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

As the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump came to an end, with a 57-43 vote failing the two-thirds majority required to convict, the former president's defense attorney appeared to "pocket" Senate coasters, which are not souvenirs. "When it was over, there were no handshakes or any apparent interaction between the two panels of lawyers," The Washington Post reported. "Van der Veen did return to the lectern, where he appeared to pocket Senate coasters."

That would be Michael van der Veen, who "is best known for his law firm's ubiquitous ads on local news radio station KYW-AM, which are reminiscent of East Coast electronics chain Crazy Eddie's high-octane TV pitches from the 1980s," an earlier Washington Post article revealed.

Van der Veen won few fans on the left after his outbursts and lies during the impeachment trial.

He was quickly mocked on social media.









Trump Lawyer: ’There Was No Insurrection’ So He’s Innocent

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Donald Trump's lead impeachment defense attorney on Friday said Trump cannot be guilty of inciting an insurrection because the insurrection on January 6 at the U.S. Capitol wasn't an insurrection.

"They continue to say insurrection, clearly there was no insurrection," Bruce Castor said of how the Democratic impeachment managers described the January 6 attack. "Insurrection is a term of art, it's defined in the law, it involves taking over a country, a shadow government, taking the TV stations over and having some plan on what you're going to do when you finally take power. Clearly this is not that."

Castor's comment is false.

What happened at the Capitol on January 6 was the textbook definition of an insurrection.

According to Merriam-Webster, an insurrection is "an act or instance of revolting against civil authority or an established government."

That's exactly what happened on January 6, when a mob of Trump supporters broke into the Capitol to stop the peaceful transition of power by blocking President Joe Biden's electoral victory from being certified.

Trump had been pushing for members of Congress, as well as Mike Pence, to vote to stop Biden's Electoral College victory from being certified — a last-ditch attempt to steal the election, after his legal challenges and ham-handed attempts to get Republican legislatures to simply overturn the results had already failed.

Even if you accept Castor's definition of insurrection, that is still what occurred on January 6.

The insurrectionists did have the goal of overthrowing the rightfully elected Biden administration to keep Trump in power.

Indictments from the Justice Department against the insurrectionists call the attack an insurrection.

"The crimes charged in the indictment involve active participation in an insurrection attempting to violently overthrow the United States Government," reads an indictment of Jacob Chansley, the man photographed in fur and horns at the Capitol.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Trump Defense Falsely Blames ‘Antifa’ For Capitol Riot

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

One of Donald Trump's attorneys on Friday falsely blamed antifa for the deadly January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, one of the numerous lies and distortions that made up the first minutes of Trump's defense.

"According to publicly available reporting, it is apparent that extremists of various different stripes and political persuasions preplanned and premeditated an attack on the Capitol," Michael T. van der Veen, one of Trump's lawyers, said. "One of the first people arrested was the leader of antifa. Sadly, he was also among the first to be released."

It's unclear who van der Veen was referencing.

However, reporters think it may be John Sullivan, a man who was in the Capitol during the insurrection and incorrectly identified as member of "antifa" and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Fact-checkers have asserted that antifa was not behind the insurrection at the Capitol.

Right-wing media and some GOP lawmakers tried to push this baseless lie in the immediate aftermath of the attack.

However, it's become increasingly clear with each arrest made following the Jan. 6 events that the insurrectionists were Trump supporters, many of whom said they engaged in the insurrection at Trump's request.

That was a point driven home by the Democratic impeachment managers during Trump's impeachment trial.

"They were doing what he wanted them to do," Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO), one of the impeachment managers, said on Wednesday of the insurrectionists, showing a video of some of the arrested rioters saying they were just following Trump's orders.

Why Trump Finds No Refuge In The First Amendment

When the mob of Donald Trump fanatics invaded the U.S. Capitol on January 6, one of them carved a vivid message into a door: "Murder the media." So, it is only fitting that the former president's lawyers are defending him in his Senate impeachment trial by claiming the protection of ... the First Amendment. You know, the one that protects the media.

That provision bars the government from "abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." The framers placed a high value on ensuring that newspapers and pamphleteers could operate without getting permission from the government or anyone else.

But MAGA nation is openly hostile to any journalists who don't champion its cause. At the Capitol, participants harassed, threatened and assaulted reporters. One group of people screamed, "CNN sucks!" as they smashed an Associated Press crew's cameras and other equipment.

The acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, Michael Sherwin, urged anyone with information about these episodes to report it. "We are resolutely committed to upholding the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment, including speech, peaceful assembly and press, and we will investigate, prosecute and hold accountable anyone who attempts to obstruct or curtail these freedoms through violence or intimidation," he said.

Violence against journalists is the predictable result of Trump's venomous attacks against anyone daring to broadcast or publish any information casting him in a bad light. He has frequently labeled the press "the enemy of the people."

He persisted in his incendiary rhetoric, even after it proved literally incendiary: In 2018, a Trump-worshipping nut case mailed pipe bombs to CNN's New York office and several prominent Democrats. The bomb maker got a 20-year sentence.

Trump and his cult take the view that the First Amendment should protect their right to say and tweet anything they want — but not the right of news organizations to dispense information refuting their claims.

He even thinks social media firms, notably Twitter and Facebook, should be required to spread his fabrications — more evidence that he has no clue about the First Amendment. It was meant as a check on government, not on private companies, which are free to take a pass on dishonest propaganda.

Trump has long dreamed of using the legal system to bankrupt news organizations. "I'm going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money," he vowed. So, what's stopping him? Oh, right — the First Amendment. The Supreme Court has ruled that it sets a high bar for defamation suits by public figures.

Commentators can't be held liable even for erroneous accusations unless they deliberately lied or showed a "reckless disregard" for the truth. Accurate claims — what Trump has the most reason to fear — are fully protected. If a news organization had indeed published articles about him that were purposely false, it would be at high risk of ruinous judgments. Trump has filed or threatened to file a host of libel suits — but has never won one.

As it happens, you don't necessarily need to change the libel laws to punish vicious smears. The election technology company Smartmatic has filed a $2.7 billion lawsuit against Fox News, three of its anchors, and Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell for an alleged "conspiracy to defame and disparage Smartmatic." The Trumpist network Newsmax reacted to the threat with an on-air admission that various claims about Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems were false.

Trump's Senate lawyers advanced the novel argument that his statements inflaming those attending the January 6 rally near the White House are protected by the First Amendment. It is one of the constitutional provisions, they say, that "specifically and intentionally protect unpopular speech from government retaliation." But the Supreme Court has long held that the government may punish speech that "is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action." A group of 144 legal scholars and lawyers, some of them conservatives, said the argument was "legally frivolous."

Trump and his followers have a tortured relationship with the Constitution. They want it to shield them when they lie and punish critics when they tell the truth. So far, they have been unable to twist the First Amendment to serve their nefarious purposes. That failure is the ultimate vindication of its value.

Steve Chapman blogs at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chapman. Follow him on Twitter @SteveChapman13 or at https://www.facebook.com/stevechapman13. To find out more about Steve Chapman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Trump’s Impeachment Lawyer Made A Grave Error On Fox News

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Many cable news pundits, including conservatives like MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, have argued that Rep. Jamie Raskin, a House impeachment manager, performed much better than Donald Trump's attorneys during the first day of the former president's second impeachment trial. But Fox News' Sean Hannity insisted on Tuesday night that Trump's legal team had the better presentation — and he tried to make his point by interviewing Trump attorney David Schoen.

According to some legal experts, though, Schoen's comments gave legal ammunition to the pro-impeachment side.

Hannity declared, "[For] two Februaries in a row, Democrats are conducting a show trial in the U.S. Senate to impeach and convict Donald J. Trump, who's president-in-exile, according to Jim Acosta. And while the first unsuccessful charade was pretty terrible, the sequel is even worse….. The president's attorney, David Schoen, had a great day, in my opinion."

After bringing Schoen on, Hannity asked him, "If we apply the Democratic standards for how they define incitement and insurrection — if that same standard is applied, do they not all deserve impeachment too?" And the attorney responded, "Yeah, I would say, you know, listen, if they tried to impeach them, I would say that also is an abuse, was an abuse, of the impeachment process. But your point is: they're using rhetoric that is just as inflammatory or more so. The problem is, they don't really have followers, dedicated followers when they give speeches."

Law & Crime reporter Colin Kalmbacher noted that "Schoen's words were immediately interpreted as helpful for Democrats."

The Daily Beast's Justin Baragona tweeted:

According to Asha Rangappa — a former FBI special agent who is now a legal analyst for CNN — Schoen's comments on Hannity's show were helpful to the pro-impeachment side:


Steve Vladeck, a University of Texas law professor, tweeted:

Cogent, Persuasive Impeachment Managers Scramble Trump Defense

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Bruce Castor, one of Donald Trump's defense attorneys for his second impeachment trial, admitted before Congress on Tuesday afternoon that Trump's legal team was thrown off by how "well done" the House impeachment managers' presentation at the top of the trial was and had improvised a response after throwing out all their preplanned remarks.

"I'll be quite frank with you," Castor, a former Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, district attorney who infamously refused to prosecute Bill Cosby, said. "We changed what we were going to do, on account that we thought that House managers' presentation was well done."

Impeachment managers had presented, among other arguments, a 13-minute video outlining the attack on the Capitol in chronological order, interspersed with Trump's remarks egging on the violence.

But, Castor assured the assembled lawmakers, Trump's legal team do have responses to the arguments raised by the House impeachment managers — they just won't be sharing them right now.

"I wanted you to know that we have responses to those things," Castor said. He explained that he thought that he was initially supposed to be discussing jurisdiction, but would provide further arguments later.

"We have counterarguments to everything that they raised, and you will hear them later on in the case from Mr. van der Veen and myself," Castor said, referring to fellow impeachment defense attorney Michael van der Veen.

Castor was brought on to Trump's team a little over a week ago, on Feb. 1.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, in a case filed against Trump in 2020 by a candidate for Congress, van der Veen, while representing the congressional candidate, accused Trump of having suppressed votes by making baseless claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election. Van der Veen has also referred to Trump as a "f—king crook," one of his former clients told the outlet.

BRUCE CASTOR: I'll be quite frank with you. We changed what we were going to do on account that we thought that the House managers' presentation was well done. And I wanted you to know that we have responses to those things.
I thought that what the first part of the case was, which was the equivalent of a motion to dismiss, was going to be about jurisdiction alone, and one of the fellows who spoke for the House managers, who was a former criminal defense attorney, seemed to suggest that there's something nefarious that we were discussing jurisdiction and trying to get the case dismissed.
But this is where it happens in the case because jurisdiction is the first thing that has to be found. We have counter arguments to everything that they raised, and you will hear them later on in the case from Mr. van der Veen and from myself.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Dershowitz on Trump Lawyer: ‘I Have No Idea What He’s Doing’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Alan Dershowitz panned the performance of President Donald Trump's first lawyer in his Senate impeachment trial, Bruce Castor, in an appearance during the proceedings on Tuesday. Dershowitz appeared bewildered at the opening remarks.

"I have no idea what he's doing," said Dershowitz, who defended Trump during his first impeachment. "Maybe he'll bring it home, but right now, it does not appear to me to be effective advocacy."

Castor's rambling and unfocused argument was widely criticized. Noting that Castor had seemed to go out of his way to praise the Senators, Dershowitz said: "Maybe they want to be buttered up, maybe they want to be told what great people they are and how he knows two Senators, but it's not the kind of argument I would have made, I have to tell you that."

Instead, Dershowitz, who was recently exposed for trying to get presidential clemency for convicted child sex trafficker George Nader, said he would have argued that the president's alleged incitement of an insurrection was protected First Amendment speech. Many other experts and scholars have argued, however, that the First Amendment does not cover Trump's conduct.

Watch the clip below:

Law Prof Cited By Trump Team Says They ‘Flat-Out Misrepresented’ His Work

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

In a legal brief submitted this week, one of the sources cited by former President Donald Trump's impeachment lawyers is a 2001 article by Brian C. Kalt, a University of Michigan law professor. Attorneys Bruce Castor, David Schoen and Michael T. van der Veen use Kalt's article to argue against Trump's second impeachment — and according to a Twitter thread by Kalt, they have taken his arguments out of context "badly."

Kalt's 2001 article dealt with late impeachment. Trump, following the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol Building, was impeached late in his presidency for incitement to insurrection — too late, according to his impeachment lawyers. But Kalt, noting that the brief "cites my 2001 article on late impeachment a lot," explains, "The article favored late impeachability, but it set out all the evidence I found on both sides — lots for them to use. But in several places, they misrepresent what I wrote quite badly."

Kalt, in his 2001 article, never reached the conclusion that a late impeachment was unconstitutional. But Castor, Schoen and van der Veen, according to Kalt, strongly suggest he did argue for this conclusion.

One of the "problematic" things about the brief, Kalt tweets, is that Trump's attorneys "suggest that I was endorsing an argument when what I actually did was note that argument — and reject it." And according to Kalt, the brief contains "multiple examples of such flat-out misrepresentations."

For instance, at one point in the brief, Trump's lawyers write:

The only purpose of impeachment is to remove the President, Vice-President, and civil officers from office. When a President is no longer in office, the objective of an impeachment ceases.

The second of these sentences has a footnote, citing the paper by Kalt. But as Kalt pointed out on Twitter, in the very argument Trump's lawyers cited, he actually argued that their view of the Constitution has "deep flaws." He argued that in other cases analogous to impeachment, it makes sense to conclude that punishments and trials can be undertaken for former officeholders. He said that the argument Trump's lawyers make would be plausible if "removal [from office] were the only possible judgment in impeachment cases." Kalt added: "But removal is not the only possible judgment mentioned in the case text; disqualification is possible too."

In other words, because the Constitution allows for an impeachment conviction to bar a president from seeking office again, it makes sense that it would allow for a former president to be tried in the Senate. Kalt argued the exact opposite of what Trump's lawyers claimed.

"Again, my article presented all of the evidence I found on both sides, so there was lots for them to use fairly. They didn't have to be disingenuous and misleading like this," he said. "The House managers' brief cited my article a lot too and, to their credit, did so honestly."