Trump defense attorney Michael van der Veen opened arguments for the defense by calling the article of impeachment before the Senate an “unjust and blatantly unconstitutional act of political vengeance” and went on to play a montage of videos of Democrats in an effort to suggest their past rhetoric is not so different than that of the former president.
“This appalling abuse of the Constitution only further divides our nation when we should be trying to come together around shared priorities,” he said.
However, the Senate on Tuesday voted 55-45 to move forward with the impeachment proceedings, affirming they are constitutional.
Van der Veen went on to say Democrats’ suggestion that Trump’s speech led to violence is “patently absurd on its face” and that “no thinking person” should believe that.
“Nothing in the text could ever be construed as encouraging, condoning or enticing unlawful activity of any kind. Far from promoting insurrection against the United States, the president’s remarks explicitly encouraged those in attendance to exercise their rights, peacefully and patriotically,” he said.
In one of the videos van der Veen played, a few House Democrats — including lead House impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md. — objected to Trump’s victory on the Electoral College certification following the 2016 election, as GOP lawmakers did to President Joe Biden’s victory ahead of and after the Jan. 6 attack.
In another, he played clips of Trump praising “law and order” inter-spliced with Democratic leadership speaking in support of protests over the summer in the wake of the death of George Floyd in police custody.