Trump lawyer struggles to answer key questions from Republican senators

David Knowles
·Senior Editor
·3 min read

A lawyer representing Donald Trump at the former president's Senate impeachment trial struggled Friday to answer pointed questions asked by Republican senators.

"Exactly when did President Trump learn of the breach of the Capitol? What specific actions did he take to bring the rioting to an end, and when did he take them?" the Senate clerk said, reading the questions from moderate Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. "Please be as detailed as possible."

In his answer, Trump lawyer Michael T. van der Veen made clear that he didn't know the answers, which he could have obtained simply by posing those questions to his client.

"The House managers have given us absolutely no evidence one way or the other onto that question. We're able to piece together a timeline, and it goes all the way back to Dec. 31. Jan. 2 there's a lot of interaction between the authorities and getting folks to have security beforehand on the day," van der Veen responded.

"We have a tweet at 2:38 [on Jan. 6], so it was certainly some time before then. With the rush to bring this impeachment, there's been absolutely no investigation into that. And that's the problem with this, uh, entire proceeding. The House managers did zero investigation, and the American people deserve a lot better than coming in here with no evidence, hearsay on top of hearsay on top of reports that are of hearsay. Due process is required here, and that was denied."

Attorney Michael T. van der Veen, representing and defending former President Donald Trump, walks through the Senate Reception Room during the second day of Trumps second impeachment trial on February 10, 2021 in Washington, DC. - Democrats present the case against Donald Trump in his Senate impeachment trial Wednesday, arguing that he directed an enraged crowd to storm Congress in the dying days of his presidency -- even if Republicans look unlikely to convict. (Photo by BRANDON BELL / various sources / AFP) (Photo by BRANDON BELL/AFP via Getty Images)
Attorney Michael T. van der Veen. (Brandon Bell/AFP via Getty Images)

Throughout the presentation of their case, the Democratic House managers argued that Trump failed to quell the riot by his supporters at the Capitol and had incited them to commit violence against then-Vice President Mike Pence.

Moments after Collins and Murkowski asked their question, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, also sought details from the president's counsel about what Trump knew and when he knew it.

"When President Trump sent the disparaging tweet at 2:24 p.m. regarding Vice President Pence, was he aware that the vice president had been removed from the Senate by the Secret Service for his safety?" Romney, whose question was read by the clerk, asked.

Once again, van der Veen blamed Democrats.

"The answer is no," van der Veen said. "At no point was the president informed that the vice president was in any danger. Because the House rushed through this impeachment in seven days with no evidence, there is nothing at all in the record on this point. Because the House failed to do even a minimum of due diligence. What the president did know, there was a violent riot happening at the Capitol. That's why he repeatedly called via tweet and via video for the riots to stop, to be peaceful, to respect Capitol Police and law enforcement and commit no violence and to go home."

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