Donald Trump’s attorney Michael van der Veen sparked a moment of laughter in the Senate chamber on Saturday when he suggested that witnesses in Trump’s second impeachment trial would have to give depositions in person, at his office in Philadelphia.
It didn’t help that he pronounced it “Philly-delphia.”
“Nancy Pelosi’s deposition needs to be taken,” Van der Veen said. “Vice President Harris’ deposition absolutely needs to be taken. And not by Zoom. None of these depositions should be done by Zoom. We didn’t do this hearing by Zoom. These depositions should be done in-person, in my office, in Philly-delphia.”
At that point, the room erupted in laughter.
“I don’t know how many civil lawyers are here, but that’s how it works, folks,” he said, before adding, “I don’t know why you’re laughing.”
The attorney’s comments came after House impeachment managers moved to subpoena witnesses in the trial following a report about a phone call between Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). Trump reportedly mocked McCarthy when — in the midst of the Capitol riot on Jan. 6 — he called the president and begged him to tell his supporters to stop.
Van der Veen called for the trial to end on Saturday with no witnesses, but then specified that if witnesses were to be called, he would want them to come to his Philadelphia office.
The Senate ultimately voted 55-45 to call witnesses in the trial. Shortly afterward, however, the Senate agreed instead to include a written statement from Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), who had revealed the details of the Trump-McCarthy call.
Historian Kevin Kruse pointed out on Twitter that when witnesses were called in Bill Clinton’s 1999 impeachment trial, multiple depositions occurred via video.
Others on Twitter were more focused on Van der Veen’s unique pronunciation.