Trump’s legal team exits after he insists they use election fraud as impeachment defense

February 2, 2021

The former president continues to be his own worst enemy: Last weekend, Trump was dumped by the legal team for his second impeachment trial, as he continued to fixate on arguing that the 2020 election was stolen from him—a defense that they had warned him is ill-conceived and that GOP strategists fear will fuel the growing divide in their party, The Washington Post reports.

South Carolina lawyer Karl S. “Butch” Bowers Jr. and four other attorneys who recently signed on to represent the former president abruptly parted ways with him days before his February 9 Senate trial for his role in inciting the attack on the U.S. Capitol. On Sunday evening, Trump’s office announced two new lawyers were taking over his defense.

Two people familiar with the discussions preceding the departure of the original legal team said that Trump wanted them to make the case during the trial that he actually won the election. To do so would require citing his false claims of election fraud—even as his allies and attorneys have said that he should instead focus on arguing that impeaching a president who has already left office is unconstitutional, the Post said.

Trump’s lawyers initially had planned to center their strategy on the question of whether the proceedings were constitutional and on the definition of incitement, according to one of the sources—who, like others interviewed by The Washington Post for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the internal conversations.

But the former president repeatedly said he wanted to litigate the voter fraud allegations and the 2020 race—and was seeking a more public defense of his actions. Bowers told Trump he couldn’t mount the defense that Trump wanted, the person said.

“It truly was mutual,” the person said. “The president wanted a different defense. The president wanted a different approach and a different team.”

45 senators have already voted in agreement,” Miller wrote in a text message.

Bowers and the other lawyers who quit Trump’s defense team did not respond to requests for comment. CNN first reported that Trump wanted his attorneys to center his defense on his claims of election fraud.

On Sunday evening, Trump’s office announced in a statement that Atlanta-based trial attorney David Schoen and Bruce L. Castor Jr., a former district attorney in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, would lead his defense team. The two lawyers will bring “national profiles and significant trial experience in high-profile cases to the effort,” the statement said.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

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