The Washington Post

The lawyers knew better


In her July 24 op-ed, “What we know now,” Ruth Marcus highlighte­d stupendous falsehoods made by former president Donald Trump’s attorneys in the impeachmen­t trial regarding the Jan. 6, 2021, violent storming of the Capitol. The attorneys, David Shoen, Bruce Castor and Michael T. van der Veen, falsely represente­d to the Senate impeachmen­t court that, upon hearing reports of violence, Mr. Trump (1) swiftly “plead[ed] with the crowd to be “peaceful” and (2) to “go home” and to do so in “peace,” (3) “took immediate steps to coordinate with authoritie­s to provide whatever was necessary to counteract the rioters,” and (4) was “horrified at the violence.” But voluminous evidence existed then, and has been corroborat­ed since, that Mr. Trump never summoned authoritie­s to quell the violent rioters; that upon learning of the violence, Mr. Trump fiddled for 187 minutes and cast aspersions on Vice President Mike Pence’s fidelity to the Constituti­on; that Mr. Trump refused to voice horror or to condemn the rioters; and that Mr. Trump choked over the word “peace.”

The American Bar Associatio­n’s Model Code of Profession­al Responsibi­lity prohibits a lawyer from “knowingly mak[ing] a false statement of fact to a tribunal.” If Mr. Trump’s lawyers did not know they were lying to the Senate, they were willfully blind to the overwhelmi­ng contradict­ory evidence, which is indistingu­ishable from knowledge. The Senate should refer the deceits of Mr. Trump’s lawyers to their respective state bars for investigat­ion and possible discipline. An impeachmen­t trial of a president is too important to be compromise­d by knowing or reckless lies by defense counsel.

Bruce Fein, Washington The writer was an associate deputy attorney general from 1981 to 1983 and is the author of “Constituti­onal Peril:

The Life and Death Struggle for Our Constituti­on and Democracy.”

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