Attorney David Schoen appeared on the Senate Floor of the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday as part of the legal team defending former President Donald Trump during his impeachment trial.
As the nation watched the Alabama-based criminal defense lawyer present his case for Trump, some on social media were also paying close attention to Schoen’s actions ― and showcasing some misunderstanding about Jewish practices.
Several times during his speech, Schoen placed his hand over his head while he sipped water. Unaware of the religious intent behind these actions, some began questioning and even mocking him on Twitter.
Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, a progressive Jewish group, urged people to stop poking fun at Schoen, an Orthodox Jew, for observing his faith.
“It is Jewish ritual, not an odd behavior to be mocked,” the group tweeted.
Eating and drinking are considered holy acts in the Jewish tradition ― and there are various blessings that accompany these actions. When a blessing or prayer is recited, it’s common for Orthodox Jewish men to cover their heads, usually with a yarmulke or kippah.
Schoen was not wearing a yarmulke during his speech, so he appears to have been observing that tradition by placing his hand on his head while drinking.
Instead of mocking Schoen’s faith, Bend the Arc urged people to hold the lawyer accountable for his words.
“Please continue calling him out for making a mockery of our democracy & the concept of public speaking,” the group tweeted. “Our Jewish community rejects his attempts to defend Trump’s violent incitement.”
Schoen argued on Tuesday that the impeachment trial against Trump is unconstitutional. He claimed Democrats are being fueled by their “base hatred” of the ex-president and are “seeking to eliminate Donald Trump from the American political scene.”
“This trial will tear this country apart, perhaps like we’ve only seen once before in our history,” Schoen said, apparently referring to the Civil War. “It is wrong, as wrong can be for all of us as a nation.”
The Senate elected to proceed with the impeachment trial with a vote of 56-44, with six Republicans joining all 48 Democrats and two independents.
A two-thirds vote of 67 senators is required for conviction.