Former President Donald Trump’s defense lawyer refused to answer a question from Sen. Bernard Sanders on Friday about whether he believed “the big lie” that Mr. Trump won the presidential election in November.
“Who asked that?” lawyer Michael van der Veen scowled on the Senate floor, searching for the senator who submitted the question.
“I did,” called out Mr. Sanders, Vermont independent.
“My judgment is irrelevant in this proceeding,” Mr. van der Veen replied.
“No, it isn’t,” Mr. Sanders said angrily.
Mr. van der Veen noted that the impeachment trial was focused on an accusation that Mr. Trump incited the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
The lawyer also told Mr. Sanders, “On the issue of contesting elections and results, the Democrats have a long, long history of doing just that.”
House impeachment manager Delegate Stacey Plaskett, Virgin Islands Democrat, was happy to answer Mr. Sanders’ question.
“As we all know, President Trump did lose the election by 7 million votes,” she said.
Mr. van der Veen said the only relevant question in the impeachment article is, “were Mr. Trump’s words inciteful to the point of violence and riot?”
“That is the charge and that is the question, and the answer is no. He did not have speech that is inciteful to violence or riot,” he added. “The House managers have showed zero, zero evidence [against Mr. Trump]. … The attack on the Capitol was pre-planned. It didn’t have anything to do with Mr. Trump.”