Former president Donald Trump’s defense attorney Michael Van der Veen argued that the remarks Trump made before a group of his supporters on Jan. 6 were protected under the First Amendment, and that his speech did not incite violence. Van der Veen cited Supreme Court rulings that he said established public officials’ right to express themselves freely, and criticized Democrats for seeking “to mete out government punishment … based on First Amendment political speech.” Van der Veen also argued that Democratic House managers “have not and cannot prove” that Trump, either explicitly or implicitly, “encouraged use of violence or lawless action” on Jan. 6.
Van der Veen spoke Feb. 12 as the former president’s defense team offered their case for why the Senate should acquit Trump of inciting an insurrection for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Trump was impeached by the House in January, while he was still in office.
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