THE PAIN-2-POWER PERSON OF THE WEEK
This week I introduce a new feature of Pain-2-Power—the Pain-2-Power Person of the Week. Every Monday’s blog will speak about one such individual who exemplifies the qualities of courage, endurance and truth. I hope that by highlighting these examples of refusing to live a fictional life, we all can dedicate ourSELVES to the same high standard. It isn’t easy. We err and come up short, again and again,” to paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt. But inspiration helps.
The first Pain-2-Power Person of the Week is Michael van der Veen, one of President Donald Trump’s lawyers at his second impeachment trial. Attorney van der Veen doesn’t just take on clients the political Right would necessarily embrace. He has represented those seeking to provide clean needles to drug users in an effort to combat HIV/AIDS. He has represented clients alleging police brutality. He also represented a client suing President Trump for what the client alleged were baseless claims that the U.S. Postal Service was involved in voter fraud.
This time, though, van der Veen was standing up for the President because he saw no evidence that the President had inciting an insurrection at the Capitol Building on January 6. As most everyone knows, van der Veen prevailed. That isn’t unusual for him because he is a warrior for truth who is fearless in its pursuit.
Attorney van der Veen showed his intelligence and integrity at the impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate, but he didn’t stop there. When he was interviewed by Lana Zak, an anchorwoman named on CBS News’ streaming service called CBSN, he took bold exception to her challenging him about how much doctored evidence had been presented by prosecutors at the trial. Zak seemed to be saying that the doctored evidence was minimal, because it only involved backdating a document and changing the image of a Tweet to make it look like it came from a verified account—when it hadn’t. But van der Veen wasn’t going to take it and just make nice. He wasn’t going to pander. Instead, he made it very clear that Zak’s question was out of slanted, out of order and dangerous in a society that is supposed to judge people innocent or guilty according to the facts. And he was right.
People go to jail in America based on the veracity of documents. Guilt or innocence, as found by a jury, can hinge on the nuances of language in a text message or tiny details of a photo. People lose fortunes in America based on jury verdicts that find fraud or don’t—based on details. Sometimes, their verdicts are based on single details.
Watch van der Veen’s interview. Really watch. The whole thing. God willing, it will stick with you. It will add some steel to your spine. Because van der Veen couldn’t care less about being on TV or a Web broadcast. He couldn’t care less about making nice to the media. He cares about the truth and standing up for it. That’s why, when other attorneys declined to defend President Trump, he did. And he did despite having been on the opposite side from President Trump in the past. He did because the facts were in President Trump’s favor. And van der Veen has one client: The Truth.
Just a few days ago, by the way, Attorney van der Veen’s home was vandalized. The word “TRAITOR” was painted in red on his driveway. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Dr. Keith Ablow