On Friday, Trump’s team of lawyers—over the course of just a few hours—laundered many of his pet grievances and some of preferred conspiracy theories through their official legal strategy at his second Senate impeachment trial.
Early on in his presentation, Michael van der Veen, one of the Trump lawyers, insinuated that it was left-wing anarchists or “Antifa” that had been behind much of the Jan. 6 mob violence, mirroring Trump’s own embrace of a baseless internet theory that Antifa had “framed” Trump supporters. The legal team railed against “cancel culture”—they dubbed “constitutional cancel culture,” presumably for the occasion—reflecting one of the whinier closing messages of the 2020 Trump campaign. At the trial, in a montage of Democratic lawmakers, a clip of pop-music icon Madonna—yes, Madonna—being nasty to Trump popped up, matching the 45th U.S. president’s obsession with A-list celebrities. And though his legal team did not make Trump’s lies about 2020 election “fraud” conspiracies the centerpiece of their arguments (as Trump had wanted), they were sure to suggest there was nothing particularly wrongheaded about Trump promulgating those lies, alleging that it is Democrats who really spread “Big Lies” about American elections.