Donald Trump’s lawyer has been branded a “very angry man” after clashing with a TV anchor in a fiery post-acquittal interview.
A lawyer for former President Donald Trump has clashed with a TV anchor in a fiery post-acquittal interview.
Michael van der Veen spoke with CBS News host Lana Zak after the Senate voted to acquit Mr Trump on Saturday – but things quickly went off the rails after the Philadelphia lawyer took issue with the tone of one of Zak’s questions.
A clip of the nearly eight-minute exchange posted to Twitter has been viewed more than seven million times.
“What happened at the Capitol on January 6 is absolutely horrific, but what happened at the Capitol during this trial was not too far away from that,” Mr van der Veen said.
“The prosecutors in this case doctored evidence. They did not investigate this case and when they had to come to the court of the Senate to put their case on, because they hadn’t done any investigation they doctored evidence.”
He continued, “It was absolutely shocking and I think when we discovered it and we were able to expose it and put it out, I think it turned a lot of Senators. The American people should not be putting up with this. They need to look at who these House managers were and look to see whether these are the folks they want representing them. It was shocking to me. Wouldn’t have believed it.”
Zak said, “Let’s follow up with a point that you’re making right now about the House managers, as you say, ‘doctoring evidence’, and the argument, to be clear for our viewers …”
Mr van der Veen interjected, “They didn’t deny it. They didn’t deny it. I put it in front of them three times.”
Zak pressed on, “To be clear for our viewers, what you’re talking about now is a check mark, that’s a verification on Twitter, that did not exist on that particular tweet, a ‘2020’ that should have actually read ‘2021’, and the selective editing, you say, of the tapes. Is that the doctored evidence of which you’re speaking?”
Growing visibly annoyed, Mr van der Veen cut in, “Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait – that’s not enough for you? That’s not enough for you? Wait, wait, wait, no, no, no, listen.”
The two began to talk over each other, with Zak saying, “Sir, I am not a juror in this trial, what I’m trying to be clear for our viewers is what you’re referring to because not everybody has been following …”
Mr van der Veen said, “It’s not OK to doctor a little bit of evidence.”
Zak pushed back, “Respectfully, respectfully, I have not said it is OK, I want to be clear for our viewers about what exactly you’re saying when you say doctored evidence.”
Mr van der Veen told Zak her “question is turned”. “The media has to start telling the right story in this country, the media is trying to divide this country,” he said.
“You are bloodthirsty for ratings and as such you’re asking questions now that are already set up with a fact pattern. I can’t believe you would ask me a question indicating it’s alright just to doctor a little bit of evidence. What should happen is somebody should look at the conduct of these House managers, it’s unconscionable.”
Mr van der Veen said the media “should be looking (at it) in a square, straight way”.
“When I watch the news, I watch one station and it’s raining. I watch another station at the same time and it’s sunny. Your coverage is so slanted, it’s got to stop,” he said.
“What I’m telling you is that they doctored evidence, and I believe your question says, ‘Well it’s only a Twitter check, and changing a year of a date here.’ They switched the date of a Twitter (post) a year to try to connect it to this case. That’s not a small thing, ma’am. The other thing they did is they put a checkmark on something to make it look like it was a validated account when it wasn’t, and when they were caught they didn’t say anything about it, they didn’t even try to come up with an excuse about it.”
He added, “That’s not the way our prosecutors or our government officials should be conducting themselves, and the media shouldn’t be letting them get away with it, either. I’m tired of the biased media on both sides, left and right.”
Mr van der Veen continued to rail against the media.
“I understand and I’ve given you the opportunity,” Zak said eventually.
“I will remind you that what I said was that for our viewers who have not been following all the hours of this trial, to be clear about what you are speaking about. You have won the acquittal of your client, and if you would like to continue to talk about this conversation we can have that discussion, but for me to ask a question to clarify for our viewers what you’re talking about is a fair question.”
Mr van der Veen argued it was “a slanted question that was set up to say it’s OK for them to cheat”. “That was your question, ‘Isn’t it OK for them to cheat? It’s just a little bit,’” he said.
Zak insisted those were not her words.
“You said, ‘To be fair, it was only a check on the Twitter’,” Mr van der Veen said, misquoting Zak’s question. “That’s what you said. You’ve got to live by your words. That’s the problem, the media has to start living by the truth and not try to create a narrative.”
Wrapping up the interview, Zak said, “Alright, Michael van der Veen …”
“Yep, citizen,” he said sarcastically, before ripping off his microphone.
Reactions to the interview, unsurprisingly, were split between left and right, with many conservatives praising Mr van der Veen’s performance but others commending Zak for maintaining her composure during his tirade.
Zak’s husband Seth Andrew, a Democratic activist, tweeted that “after being literally laughed at on the Senate floor”, Mr van der Veen “goes on an angry mansplaining tirade against the media about doctoring evidence while wilfully and egregiously misquoting (Lana Zak) about a fair question she asked two minutes earlier”.
Former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul wrote, “Wow, (Lana Zak)! You were such a professional in this interview. My deepest admiration.”
Progressive blogger and podcast host John Aravosis said, “Trump’s lawyer is as you might expect – a very very angry man.”
But OANN host Jack Posobiec wrote that Mr van der Veen was “100 (times) better than any elected Republican dealing with these dishonest media hacks”. “Bravo. More of this,” he tweeted.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee wrote, “My new hero! Michael van der Veen is a boss! He eviscerates reporter who attempts to dismiss the evidence-doctoring of House ‘managers’. We need more lawyers like this who care about truth and actual justice.”
British conservative and Brexit leader Nigel Farage also weighed in. “This is brilliant,” he said. “It sums up the dishonesty of the Democrats and their friends in the media. Trump still has strong support.”
Following the trial, Mr van der Veen said his home had been attacked and that he had received “nearly 100 death threats”.
“My home was attacked last night – windows broken, spray paint, really bad words spray painted everywhere,” he told reporters. “And the thing is, you guys don’t know me, but you know I’m not a controversial guy. I’m not politically minded so to speak.”
Local police confirmed to the Associated Press that graffiti was found at the lawyer’s home on Friday night, but that no arrests had been made.