Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Michael van der Veen, former President Donald Trump's defense lawyer, departs the Senate floor on the fourth day of the impeachment trial on February 12, 2021 in Washington, D.C.

Michael van der Veen, former President Donald Trump's defense lawyer, departs the Senate floor on the fourth day of the impeachment trial on February 12, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Jabin Botsford—Pool/Getty Images)

'What the Big Lie Is All About': Sanders Rips Trump Lawyer Over 'Pathetic' Refusal to Acknowledge Election Results

"Three months after the election, and 61 court decisions later, Trump and his attorneys still refuse to acknowledge that he lost the election."

Jake Johnson

When asked during the Q&A portion of Friday's impeachment proceedings whether he agrees with Democratic prosecutors that Donald Trump was perpetrating a falsehood when he repeatedly claimed the 2020 election was stolen from him, the former president's defense attorney Michael van der Veen demanded to know who submitted the question.

"I did," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said from the Senate gallery, prompting a tense back-and-forth between the Vermont senator and van der Veen which forced Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the presiding officer, to intervene.

Trump's attorney proceeded to dodge Sanders' question by claiming his judgement on the election results is "irrelevant" to the trial—to which Sanders responded, "No it's not."

Watch the exchange:

Following Friday's session, the fourth day of the former president's impeachment trial, Sanders denounced the Trump lawyer's "pathetic" refusal to admit the former president's election loss—denial that was at the heart of the mob attack on the U.S. Capitol Building last month.

"This is what the Big Lie is all about," Sanders tweeted Friday night. "Three months after the election, and 61 court decisions later, Trump and his attorneys still refuse to acknowledge that he lost the election."

As Slate's Jeremy Stahl wrote late Friday, "Trump's big lie—a claim that he had won the election in a landslide, and the Republic was going to be stolen from his followers unless they acted—is directly relevant to whether or not he incited the attack on the Capitol."

"Trump's attorneys insisted on focusing on the question of whether the text of his remarks the day of the attack—to the mob he had recruited and invited—can be proven to have incited them," Stahl added. "They refused to answer for the months of lies and exhortations to supporters to 'stop the steal' that culminated in the violent invasion of the Capitol. Trump refused to show up to testify in his own defense of those months of repeating the big lie. And Republican senators remain on course to ensure that Trump is exonerated for the violence he caused."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Despite Housing Crisis, Mississippi May Return Up to Millions in Federal Rent Aid to DC

"For them to suggest people like me aren't working? It's a slap in the face," said one woman affected by the end of the pandemic assistance program. "It's very insulting and degrading."

Brett Wilkins ·


80% of US Voters Across Party Lines Support Expanding Social Security

"With Republicans threatening to cut benefits—and worse, eliminate the program entirely—Dems need to make clear they're fighting to protect and expand benefits."

Jessica Corbett ·


Rich Nations Again Accused of Vaccine Hoarding as UK OKs Moderna Omicron Booster

"While countries like the U.K. buy updated vaccines for their fourth doses, people in low- and middle-income countries are fighting today's variants with yesterday's vaccines."

Brett Wilkins ·


With Trumpian Claims of Cheating, Starbucks Demands Halt to Union Elections

"Unfortunately, it's now in vogue for the losers of some elections nationwide to attempt to reverse elections by any means they think are necessary," said Starbucks Workers United.

Jake Johnson ·


Richest Country on Earth to One of Its Poorest: We're Keeping the Money We Stole From You

A foreign affairs columnist called the move by the Biden administration a "shortsighted, morally unconscionable, and potentially calamitous decision for a country on the cusp of universal poverty."

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo