One of Trump's impeachment lawyers sued him last year — and accused him of making claims about fraud with 'no evidence' - The Washington Post
Category: News & PoliticsVia: larry-hampton • 3 weeks ago • 14 comments
By: Amy Gardner (Washington Post)
Last year, Philadelphia lawyer Michael T. van der Veen filed a lawsuit against then-President Donald Trump accusing him of making "repeated claims" that mail voting is ripe with fraud "despite having no evidence in support of these claims."
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This week, van der Veen is adopting a different posture as part of the team of attorneys defending Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election result in his Senate impeachment trial.
How a longtime personal-injury lawyer found himself at the center of that trial, which opened Tuesday, may say more about his client than his own legal career. Trump struggled to find lawyers to take on his case, parting ways with several who were unwilling to claim that the 2020 election was stolen, as the president is said to have wanted them to do.
Van der Veen's route to Trump's legal team began when the firm he founded — van der Veen, O'Neill, Hartshorn and Levin — hired Bruce L. Castor Jr. in December. Castor, a former prosecutor from suburban Philadelphia, in turn was recommended to Trump aides and hired last month.
Now, van der Veen's name and signature appear in Trump's impeachment filings alongside Castor's, as well as those of David Schoen, an Atlanta-based lawyer Trump brought on last week. In a 78-page defense brief filed Monday, the lawyers argued that Trump was entitled to express his belief that "voting irregularities" he attributed to illegal changes to election laws had tainted the election.
Van der Veen did not respond to repeated requests for comment made through his law firm.
It has been just a few months since his name was on a very different legal document — a lawsuit against Trump, the U.S. Postal Service and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy filed in federal court in August on behalf of Melvin Johnakin, an independent candidate who last year unsuccessfully sought to challenge Rep. Dwight Evans (D-Pa.). Johnakin claimed in the suit that operational changes at the federal agency would make it harder for voters to cast ballots during the coronavirus pandemic, part of a wave of litigation against the Postal Service last year.
On his website, van der Veen touted the action thusly: "To exercise the fundamental right to vote, many voters have and will utilize all available means to vote by mail rather than in person at a polling place. Advanced planning and proactive measures will be necessary to ensure that voters have sufficient access to vote by mail to preserve and protect the essential right to vote and prevent large-scale disenfranchisement."
The suit described DeJoy as a "Republican Party and Trump campaign megadonor" and accused the Postal Service of "reducing staff hours, prohibiting overtime, removing hundreds of high-volume mail-processing machines from facilities across the country and removing mail boxes in urban areas with high concentrations of minority, low income and Democratic voters."
Those operational changes "led to delays in the delivery of mail," the suit said — and came at a time when Trump was making "repeated claims" without evidence that voting by mail is "ripe with fraud."
The suit was settled in late November, part of a broader effort in 19 states and the District to block the Postal Service from making changes that could delay the mail.
Trump and his legal team at the time were attacking accommodations that state officials had made to help voters cast ballots amid the health crisis, falsely asserting that those changes led to widespread fraud.
On Nov. 25, the day the suit was dismissed, Trump spoke by telephone to a panel of Pennsylvania state senators who had assembled to examine allegations of fraud. He said he had "won by a lot" — and lamented that "all we need is to have some judge listen to it properly without having a political opinion or having another kind of a problem."