US POLITICS

Trump impeachment lead lawyers quit ahead of Congress trial

According to someone familiar with the situation, two senior members of the former president's legal team and others have left the defense strategy in disarray.

Trump impeachment lead lawyers quit ahead of Congress trial
MANDEL NGAN AFP

Ever since he lost the election, despite continued unfounded claims to the contrary, former US President Donald Trump has been losing supporters quickly. Clearly there are many who nailed their colours to the mast a long time ago and some are unwilling to be critical, but others, arguably those that jumped on the perceived gravy train at the time, are now having second thoughts. The latest relationship to be broken is with his legal team.

On Saturday, two of the lead lawyers working on Trump's defense for his Senate impeachment trial parted ways abruptly, a source familiar with the situation said, leaving Trump's legal strategy in disarray.

Trump’s lawyers latest to leave former president’s side

Butch Bowers and Deborah Barberi, two South Carolina lawyers, are no longer on Trump's team, the source said. The source did however describe the move as a "mutual decision," a term often used when a satisfactory exit clause is agreed.

Three other lawyers associated with the team, Josh Howard of North Carolina and Johnny Gasser and Greg Harris of South Carolina, also parted ways with Trump, another source said.

A third source said Trump had differences with Bowers over strategy ahead of the trial. The president is still contending that he was the victim of mass election fraud in the 3 November election won by President Joe Biden. We are still unclear what these 'differences' are although suggestions are that they are related to Trump's desire that they argue for the unfounded fraud claim.

It leaves Trump's defense team in turmoil as he prepares for a trial starting on 9 February to consider an article of impeachment passed by the House of Representatives charging Trump with inciting the 6 January storming of the US Capitol by his followers.

Trump's lawyers: who next?

It was unclear who would now represent the former president at the trial. His White House lawyers at his first impeachment trial last year, Pat Cipollone and Patrick Philbin, are not expected to be a part of the proceedings.

"The Democrats' efforts to impeach a president who has already left office is totally unconstitutional and so bad for our country," said Trump adviser Jason Miller, appearing to suggest that ignoring actions late in a presidency would not be a bad precedent to set.

"In fact, 45 senators have already voted that it is unconstitutional. We have done much work, but have not made a final decision on our legal team, which will be made shortly," Miller said.

Forty-five Senate Republicans backed a failed effort last Tuesday to halt Trump’s impeachment trial, in a show of party unity that some cited as a clear sign he will not be convicted of inciting insurrection at the Capitol.