One of Donald Trump's three impeachment lawyers described the former president as a 'f****** crook' and sued him last year for attempting to disenf
One of Donald Trump’s three impeachment lawyers described the former president as a ‘f****** crook’ and sued him last year for attempting to disenfranchise Pennsylvania votes through baseless claims of mail-in voter fraud.
Michael van der Veen, 57, was one of three lawyers drafted a week ago in to represent Trump in his trial, and on Monday signed Trump’s response to the House article of impeachment, alongside Bruce Castor and David Schoen.
Castor and Schoen are his lead defense lawyers. All were hired last Sunday, after his five previous lawyers quit.
Michael van der Veen is one of three lawyers defending Trump, alongside Castor and Schoen
Trump, pictured in November, hired Castor, Schoen and van der Veen only a week ago
The impeachment trial of Donald Trump on charges of insurrection began on Tuesday
But van der Veen’s previous remarks and cases, if known to the former president’s team, are certain to raise eyebrows – especially given Trump’s infamous demand for unswerving loyalty, and previous purges of anyone critical of him.
Van der Veen, based in Philadelphia, is best known for his personal injury, pro bono and criminal defense litigation. Castor, the former Montgomery County district attorney who famously declined to prosecute Bill Cosby, joined his firm in December.
Van der Veen represented Justin Hiemstra in 2019 when Hiemstra, a student at the time, was accused of attempting to hack into the IRS to obtain Trump’s tax returns. Van der Veen said his client had engaged in a ‘schoolboy prank’, and Hiemstra pleaded guilty and was sentenced to probation.
During one conversation, Hiemstra recalled van der Veen calling the then-president ‘a f****** crook’.
‘I’m not sure if [those comments] were made to make me feel more comfortable, or if they were his actual opinions,’ Hiemstra told The Philadelphia Inquirer.
‘He definitely came off as fairly anti-Trump in the context that I knew him.’
Justin Hiemstra described van der Veen as being ‘fairly anti-Trump’ when he knew him
The Washington Post reported that, during Trump’s first two years as president, van der Veen donated to prominent Pennsylvania Democrats, including Senator Robert P. Casey Jr., one of the former president’s most vocal critics in the chamber.
A year after the Hiemstra case, van der Veen represented Melvin Johnakin, an independent candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, when Johnakin sued Trump and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy over mail-in voting.
In the suit, filed in August, van der Veen sued ‘to preserve and protect the essential right to vote and prevent large-scale disenfranchisement’.
He accused Trump and DeJoy of plotting to slow mail delivery, in particular to disenfranchise urban voters living in minority-populated, largely Democrat districts.
‘These actions also arise in an environment subject to repeated claims by President Donald J. Trump that voting by mail is ripe with fraud, despite having no evidence in support of these claims, and lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign to stop mail-in voting in states such as Nevada and Pennsylvania,’ van der Veen wrote.
The lawsuit was settled as part of an agreement preventing the postal service from implementing many of the proposed changes that could have affected mail delivery.
Van der Veen said politics had nothing to do with his decision now to represent Trump at his impeachment trial, and insisted his previous cases had no bearing on the trial.
‘My firm treats all of its clients the same,’ he told The Philadelphia Inquirer.
‘Whether they’re in a trial on a national stage, or whether they’re in the Court of Common Pleas. They all get our best representation.’