Defense attorney David Schoen dropped a bombshell at the start of his presentation in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, accusing the House Democrats of intentionally altering evidence to distort the reality of the events of Jan. 6 at the US Capitol.
“We have reason to believe the House managers manipulated evidence and selectively edited footage,” Schoen said. If they did and this were the court of law they would face sanctions from the judge.”
Specifically, he accused lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin, D-Md., of altering the time stamp of one tweet while attempting to re-create a tweet by Trump.
Twitter deleted Trump’s account following the uprising. However, Raskin publicly gloated about his hasty efforts to compile evidence against the former president, and even invited the New York Times to photograph him as he manipulated the materials.
The House managers’ presentation misleadingly implied that the image presented was a screenshot of the original tweet, but as Schoen revealed, the date on the image in the Times‘s photo showed the year 2020.
“We have reason to believe that the House managers created false representations of tweets, and a lack of due process means that there was no opportunity to review or verify the accuracy,” Schoen said.
In another example, Schoen pointed to a tweet from a supposed “expert” and noted that Democrats appeared to have added Twitter’s blue checkmark denoting a “verified” account to lend additional cachet to an unverified tweet.
“Were you trying to make her account seem more significant or were you just sloppy?” he asked.
More broadly, he pointed to other areas where the heavily doctored footage of the Jan. 6 events and other Trump speeches or public appearances had cast a deceptive and misleading picture.
Schoen compared passages of Trump’s words used by the Democrat impeachment managers to their fuller context to show that Trump was actually going out of his way to encourage peace, contrary to the claims that he sought to incite violence.
In a particularly telling moment, he played the full remarks that Trump offered in response to the 2017 riots in Charlottesville, Va.
Despite having twice gotten the state wrong, Democrats revisited Charlottesville several times on Thursday to suggest that Trump had coddled and encouraged dangerous white-supremacists.
But in their full context, the remarks showed that he condemned rather than defended them.
The phrase oft repeated in the mainstream media echo chamber that there were “very fine people on both sides” was, in fact, a defense of peaceful protesters exercising their First Amendment rights, whom Trump expressly distinguished from the bad actors there to foment discord.
“This might be today the first time the news network played those full remarks in their context,” Schoen mused.
He also clarified that in one instance where Democrats had pointed to a Trump supporter’s tweet claiming she was bringing the cavalry with her—suggesting warlike intentions at the Jan. 6 rally—the person had, in fact, said she was bringing the calvary—“an open-air representation of the crucifixion of Jesus,” according to Webster’s.
House managers “expressly led you to believe that … the president wanted armed supporters at the Jan. 6 speech—paramilitary groups, the cavalry, ready for physical combat,” Schoen told the senators.
“The problem is, the actual text is exactly the opposite,” he continued. ‘The tweeter promised to bring the calvary—a public display of Christ’s crucifixion, a central symbol of our Christian faith—with her to the president’s speech: a symbol of faith, love and peace.”
But Schoen noted that Democrats were sometimes careful in their presentation to offer disclaimers for what might be construed as sloppiness or deception.
In fact, where they lacked the actual facts or evidence to support their claims, they repeatedly used the word “reportedly” in order to compensate for the information gap.
“As any trial lawyer will tell you, reportedly is a euphemism for I have no evidence,” Schoen said. “… It is exactly as reliable as ‘I googled this for you.'”
Schoen said the supposed urgency that House Democrats used as the pretext for cutting corners in the investigative leg of the impeachment had also resulted in a flagrant violation of rights for Trump and his defense.
“You get more due process than this when you fight a parking ticket,” he said.