In this screenshot taken from a congress.gov webcast, Michael van der Veen, lawyer for former President Donald Trump, speaks at the second impeachment trial on February 12, 2021 in Washington, DC. congress.gov/Getty

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

Donald Trump’s legal team told senators Friday that it had no idea when on January 6 their client learned of the attack on the Capitol or what Trump did to protect those in Congress who were being assaulted. Moreover, Trump lawyer Michael van der Veen blamed his crew’s ignorance on the House impeachment managers, saying they should have uncovered what Trump knew and what he did during their own investigation. He omitted the fact that the House managers had asked Trump to testify but Trump declined that invitation. His remark also suggested that Trump’s own lawyers had not done the basic work of constructing a chronology of their client’s actions on the day in question. 

But on a related question, van der Veen took a much different approach. After Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) asked whether Trump knew that Vice President Mike Pence had been evacuated when he sent a tweet at 2:24 pm assailing his veep, van der Veen replied that he did know what Trump knew about this. “At no point was the president informed the vice president was in any danger,” van der Veen said.

Trump’s lawyer did not explain how he was aware of this part of the story but not the more basic points. Moreover, his statement was disputed by the known timeline of events, which includes the statement of Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala), who has said that he told Trump shortly after 2:00 pm that Pence had been evacuated. 


Van der Veen went on to make a statement in defense of Trump that was actually damning. “What the president did know is that there was a violent riot happening at the Capitol,” he said. “That’s why he repeatedly called via tweet and via video for the riots to stop.” That is, Trump realized a violent insurrection was occurring, and he did nothing but tweet and share a video. He took no other steps, such as arranging for military and law enforcement support. That’s not much of a case for van der Veen’s client. 

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up to $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate