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Letters to the editor — Jan. 28, 2021

Former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial defense began Friday with a video montage repudiation of alleged hypocrisy from congressional Democrats.

Trump lawyer Michael van der Veen played clips of House Democrats — including lead impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) — objecting in 2016 to certification of Trump’s electors.

“The entire Democratic Party and national news media spent the last four years repeating without any evidence that the 2016 election had been hacked — and falsely and absurdly claimed the president of the United States was a Russian spy,” van der Veen said.

The defense attorney said Trump was not guilty of inciting the mob that disrupted certification of President Biden’s victory and that there’s emerging evidence that it was a pre-planned assault.

It was the fault of “a small group who came to engage in violent and menacing behavior and hijacked the event for their own purposes,” he said.

Democrats acting as prosecutors argued that the riot, which directly claimed five lives, was the result of a months-long scheme by Trump to falsely claim voter fraud was responsible for Biden’s win and then assemble a mob to intimidate Congress.

His lawyers rebutted that. “Unlike the left, President Trump has been entirely consistent in his opposition to mob violence,” van der Veen said. “He opposes it in all forms, in all places, just as he has been consistent that the National Guard should be deployed to protect American communities wherever protection is needed.”

Van der Veen noted that violent protests last year by Black Lives Matter activists were supported by many Democratic officials. In a notable difference, authorities led by the Secret Service were able to hold their line outside the White House in May and June, he said.

“In the wake of the Capitol attack, it must be investigated whether proper force posture was not initiated due to the political pressure stemming from the events at Lafayette Square,” van der Veen said, referring to the daylight dispersal of protesters in June before Trump posed for a photo op at an arson-damaged church.

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