David Schoen had quite a year.
In February 2021, the Atlanta attorney played a leading role defending then-President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial before the U.S. Senate.
In November, Schoen took on as a client former Trump aide Steve Bannon, who is charged with two counts of contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the committee investigating the violent breach of Capitol Hill on Jan. 6.
Schoen, an Orthodox Jew, told the AJT that he “could do without all of the publicity and the circus-like atmosphere” and “the vicious hate mail … that apparently comes with the territory.”
Taking on Bannon brought him another wave of vitriol. “The hate mail this time around is almost all directed to me being Jewish in one way or another. The writers tell me to take my kipa off, that I am not really a Jew or that I am a phony Jew, and most call me a Nazi,” Schoen said.
During the Trump impeachment trial, news coverage and social media took note of when Schoen, who turned 63 in late December, did or did not wear a kippah on the Senate floor and, when not, how he placed a hand atop his bare head and said a prayer before drinking from a water bottle.
Reflecting on his defense of Trump before the U.S. Senate — which he described as “an interesting experience” — Schoen said, “I would do it again because I do believe that strongly in the constitutional principles underlying” the case.
Senate leaders initially granted a request by Schoen, who worships at Congregation Beth Jacob and Ohr HaTorah, to pause the trial during Shabbat. A few days later, Schoen withdrew that request, writing to the leadership, “I very much appreciate your decision; but I remained concerned about the delay in the proceedings in a process that I recognize is important to bring to a conclusion for all involved and for the country.”
Several months later, Schoen said that he was “really honored” by the response from other observant Jews to his appearing on the Senate floor wearing a kippah and his placing his hand over his head and saying a silent prayer before drinking water. Those actions “at least made a difference to some people who felt limited at work in exploring their religious observance,” he said.
Away from the courtroom, Schoen was elected in October to a three-year term as president of the Zionist Organization of America, where he has served on the board for 20 years and helped found ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice.
- Dave Schechter
- Year in Review
- David Schoen
- Atlanta attorney
- President Donald Trump
- impeachment trial
- U.S. Senate
- Steve Bannon
- Capitol Hill
- Orthodox Jew
- Zionist Organization of America
- Zionist Organization of America Center for Law and Justice
- Trump impeachment trial
- social media
- Congregation Beth Jacob
- Congregation Ohr HaTorah