The Pacific Northwest got its C-SPAN moment Friday at former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial.
As attorneys for Trump argued that the ex-president should not be convicted for inciting the mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, resulting in the deaths of five people, they cited last year’s riots in Portland as violence they said was supported by public officials.
Attorney Michael van der Veen said little about the mob attack that temporarily halted a joint session of Congress gathering to cast votes to certify the election of Joe Biden as president.
He instead countered that Democratic officials had encouraged the riots that broke out last year across the nation in the wake of killings of Black people by law enforcement.
“When violent left-wing anarchists conducted a sustained assault on a federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon,” said van der Veen, mispronouncing Oregon, “Speaker Pelosi did not call it an insurrection. Instead she called the federal law enforcement officers protecting the building ‘stormtroopers.'”
Pelosi made that reference at least once, in a July, 17, 2020, tweet.
It came after some militarized federal agents deployed by the president detained people on Portland streets far from the federal property they were assigned to protect.
The same day of Pelosi’s tweet, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler called on the federal government to “Keep your troops in your own buildings, or have them leave our city.”
Wheeler went on to accuse the president of using “federal troops to bolster his sagging polling data” in what he called “an absolute abuse of federal law enforcement officials.”
Meanwhile, Ellen Rosenblum, the Oregon attorney general, said she was going to file a federal lawsuit against several agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Marshals Service for allegedly violating Oregonians’ civil rights.
Later, in Friday’s defense of Trump, attorney David Schoen contended that Democrats were motivated to impeach the former president out of hatred.
And he suggested Democrats were hypocritical in decrying the attempt by Trump supporters to overturn the November election by showing clips of several House members who rose in January 2017 to object to the certification of Trump’s election.
The clips included U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Seattle, then a freshman Democrat, rising only to be gaveled down by then-Vice President Joe Biden.
“Mr. President, I object to the certificate from the state of Georgia on the grounds that the electoral votes were not — ” she said.
But Biden brought down his gavel, cutting the representative off.
“There is no debate,” said Biden, adding that such objection needed to be in writing and signed by both a House and a Senate lawmaker.
Asked about that 2017 clip on Friday, a spokesperson for Jayapal wrote in an email that, “Today’s distractions prove that Donald Trump’s lawyers are unable to defend his actions because inciting a deadly insurrection is indefensible.
“Congresswoman Jayapal believes that Donald Trump must be convicted by the Senate and held fully accountable for inciting this deadly attack on America with the intent of overtaking Congress, overturning this election, and undermining our democracy,” wrote Chris Evans.
After Biden won the presidency in November, about 60 lawsuits challenging his victory were filed in courts in several states. All but one was rejected.
More than two-thirds of those lawsuits didn’t even make formal fraud allegations, according to an analysis by The New York Times. They instead argued that local officials failed to properly administer the elections or follow codes, or that rules in effect on Election Day were not actually legal.
Friday’s defense of the president caps a week of Trump’s second impeachment trial. Earlier in the week, House Democrats serving as prosecutors contended that the former president was not an “innocent bystander” but instead the “inciter in chief” of the deadly Capitol riot, after he spent months spreading lies about the results and priming supporters for his calls to prevent Biden’s victory.
Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.