The Real Reason Senators Burst Out Laughing During Trump's Impeachment Trial

While any trial can be the setting for high tension, arguments, and even drama, it's not necessarily the kind of place in which attendees routinely burst into laughter — especially when it's the second impeachment trial for Donald Trump, the only U.S. president to have been impeached twice and the first to face impeachment as a former commander-in-chief. But this seemingly ended up being the case at an already unprecedented event in American history, according to NBC News.

In Feb. 13, 2021 coverage of the Senate phase of the impeachment hearing, NBC highlighted that senators "burst out laughing" following a suggestion made by a member of Trump's defense team, Michael Van der Veen, over where potential witnesses should be deposed. (In the end, the Senate voted against calling witnesses.) And while Van der Veen's remarks might have been innocuous enough at face value, they evidently made the room erupt into raucous guffaws. So what exactly did Michael Van der Veen say to make a room full of usually tight-lipped legislators chuckle with abandon? Read on after the jump to find out.

Michael Van der Veen used a funny pronunciation

As NBC News reported, former President Donald Trump's attorney Michael Van der Veen became an unwitting source of comedy at the second impeachment trial when he requested that witnesses have their depositions conducted in his own office. "These depositions should be done in person in my office in Philadelphia. That's where they should be done," said Van der Veen. But the true highlight of the statement was his pronunciation of the city as "Philly-delphia," incidentally spurring scores of senators to break out into unexpected laughter.

Van der Veen seemed perplexed as to why members of Congress were laughing, adding, "There's nothing laughable here." Despite the momentary break for levity, Senator Patrick Leahy castigated legislators for a lapse in decorum, using a quote by a former Supreme Court justice. "I would remind everybody, as Chief Justice Roberts noted Jan. 21, 2020, citing the trial of Charles Swayne in 1905: all parties of the chamber must refrain from using language that is not conducive to civil discourse," said Leahy during his scolding

Notably, Van der Veen's suggestion of venue also had another irony: while falsely claiming election fraud after President Joe Biden's November 2020 win, Trump accused Philadelphia of counting illegal votes

After the verdict, Michael Van der Veen made an intentional joke

After the U.S. Senate voted 57-43 against convicting former President Donald Trump on Feb. 13, 2021, his impeachment defense attorney Michael Van der Veen made a joke to reporters, actually intending to get laughs this time. "We're going to Disney World," he remarked about celebrating the win, according to the New York Post.

The famous words are an advertising slogan for a Disney commercial that has aired after the Super Bowl annually since 1987, according to SB Nation. The ad usually features the game's most valuable player, who does, in fact, receive a trip to Disney World or Disneyland. For instance, Tampa Bay Buccaneers players Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are headed to the Happiest Place on Earth after winning Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7, 2021, according to WTSP.

So, perhaps Van der Veen sees himself as the MVP for this trial? More likely, he was probably making a simple joke in celebration of the win, especially since the days leading up to the moment were no laughing matter.

Earlier, Michael Van der Veen faced a serious situation

Defense attorney Michael Van der Veen's pronunciation of Philadelphia made senators laugh during former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial on Feb. 13, 2021. But the lawyer faced a serious situation at home in Pennsylvania. Van der Veen mentioned that his "home was attacked last night" during the trial on Feb. 12. "Windows broken, spray paint, really bad words spray painted everywhere," he said, according to The Hill. Van der Veen also noted that he received "nearly 100 death threats."

But the backlash didn't end tere. According to CBS Philly, vandals spray painted the word "traitor" on the driveway to Van der Veen's Chester County, Pa., home on Feb. 12, 2021 around 8 p.m. local time. West Whiteland Township Detective Scott Pezick told CBS Philly that no arrests have been made in the case. Van der Veen's home, however, now has private security, as well as increased police presence to watch out for any other attacks.

Meanwhile, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that demonstrators from a group called Refuse Fascism gathered outside of Van der Veen's Philadelphia law office. "When van der Veen lies, what do you do? Convict. Convict," they chanted, according to the newspaper.

It seems unlikely that the city will forget Van der Veen's participation in the second impeachment trial anytime soon.