In the days following former President Donald Trump's acquittal on impeachment for incitement to insurrection, his lawyers and allies tried to arm the process on allegations that the House's impeachment executives had resorted to producing evidence.
These claims are extremely flimsy and cannot stand up to basic scrutiny. But they provide an excuse for people like Trump attorney Michael van der Veen and Donald Trump Jr. to go on TV and complain about how unfairly Donald Trump has been treated.
In an interview with CBS on Saturday that was viewed nearly 10 million times when this was released, van der Veen went so far as to equate the January 6 riot, which left five impeachment deaths with Trump's treatment.
"What happened at the Capitol on January 6th is absolutely horrific, but what happened during that process at the Capitol wasn't too far off," he said. "The prosecutors processed evidence in this case."
Trump's defense attorney Michael van der Veen speaks to @LanaZak after the Senate's acquittal vote: "What happened at the Capitol on January 6th is absolutely horrific. But what happened during that trial at the Capitol wasn't too far off."
Check out the full interview: pic.twitter.com/ndjBZzJgNZ
– CBS News (@CBSNews) February 13, 2021
CBS News host Lana Zak responded by trying to unpack what van der Veen meant by Democrats "manipulating evidence". It didn't sound like much.
“To be clear to our viewers, you are now talking about a tick that is a confirmation on Twitter that there was no such thing as a tweet, a“ 2020 ”that should have read“ 2021 ”, and the selective editing of the Ribbons, you say. Is this the treated evidence you speak of? " She asked.
Zak's characterization of van der Veen's claims was correct. But before she could even finish the question, van der Veen – perhaps knowing how weak his accusations sound when laid out like that – shot back angrily.
"Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait – that's not enough for you? No no No. It's not okay to handle some evidence," he said, later adding, "I can't believe you gave me one Would ask a question indicating that it is okay to cover just some pieces of evidence. "
Van der Veen & # 39; s controversial achievement has received wide praise from right wing experts. Less controversial, but equally enlightening, was Donald Trump Jr.'s appearance on the Monday night edition of Sean Hannity's Fox News Show when he even proposed that the property managers be arrested.
"The reality is this: if this weren't a kangaroo court, Republicans would have to go to the alleged prosecution to literally produce evidence," he said. “I mean, imagine a prosecutor in America was caught producing evidence against a witness. That would be a criminal offense. They would be expelled, they would be thrown from their positions, they would be charged. That should happen here if they are producing, putting false blue ticks, changing tweets, and doing all of those things for impact. "
The reality is that despite Trump's acquittal, 57 senators – including seven Republicans – voted to condemn him. And even GOP lawmakers who voted for an acquittal on procedural grounds, including minority leader Mitch McConnell, made it clear that they blamed Trump for the January 6 uprising.
Even so, van der Veen and Don Jr. are trying to make it appear that Trump's second impeachment trial is just another part of the anti-Trump witch hunt. But they reckon that people won't take the time to examine the merits of what they are claiming because there aren't any.
The outrage is performative, not substantial
Allegations of evidence manipulation by the House impeachment managers were first made during the presentation by Trump attorney David Schoen during the Friday portion of the impeachment process when he said, "We have reason to believe that the property managers were manipulating evidence and selectively editing footage to have."
Schön's aim was to discredit the prosecutor's case by questioning the property managers' credibility, but the specific examples he cited had no bearing on their case.
It was related to a photo from a New York Times article showing lead prosecutor Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) preparing for trial by looking at a computer monitor shown below a Trump tweet is displayed with the wrong date. Schön cited this photo to claim Democrats fabricated evidence, but, as he himself admitted, the error was corrected before trial.
Schön accused the property managers of "manipulating evidence" – but his evidence to back it up is a photo from a piece in the New York Times that is in no way central to the case and wasn't even presented during the trial pic.twitter .com / EGVedolQvd
– Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 12, 2021
The other specific allegations made by Schön and van der Veen were similarly weak. It dealt with the year on a Trump tweet that managers displayed "2021" instead of "2020" during the test reading. Another had to do with the blue check mark on a Twitter account that Trump retweeted when the account was in fact not verified. Schön also argued with the indictment about the importance of misspellings in tweets that Trump retweeted, accusing the Democrats of "selectively editing" the footage presented during the trial by posting short clips of Trump's speech prior to the Jan. 6 uprising. January showed rather than longer parts of it. (The implication is that Trump didn't even press his supporters to stay peaceful during a speech in which he referred to "fighting" more than 20 times. It's not that he did anything.)
The inconsistencies in the tweets, while legitimate errors, did not affect the actual content of the posts in question or the content of the property manager's case. And, as an adviser to the property manager explained after Schön made these discrepancies clear, the errors arose because prosecutors had to re-create Trump's tweets from scratch after his account was permanently banned.
"The text is completely unchanged," said the aide to The Hill. “The final graphic accidentally had a blue check mark, but the content was completely correct. So what are Trump's lawyers all about? "
Of course, it was not about defending Trump's content, but trying to discredit the Democrats, while people like van der Veen were blamed for performative outrage during the TV hits. And for this purpose the mission was accomplished.