Trump impeachment lawyers ‘quit’ days before Senate trial

31 January 2021, 10:37

File photo. Lawyer Butch Bowers has left Donald Trump's impeachment defence team.
File photo. Lawyer Butch Bowers has left Donald Trump's impeachment defence team. Picture: PA

By Joe Cook

Five of Donald Trump’s defence lawyers have quit just days before the Senate begins its second impeachment trial of the former president, US media report.

Five of Donald Trump’s defence lawyers have quit just days before the Senate begins its second impeachment trial of the former president, US media report.

Lead lawyer Butch Bowers, whose hiring was announced last week, has left by mutual decision, according to sources speaking to CNN and the New York Times.

Deborah Barbier, a second lawyer from South Carolina who was expected to lead the defence, has also left the team, alongside three others.

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It is currently unclear who will represent the former president at the trial, which is set to begin on 8 February.

The Senate must vote on whether to convict Mr Trump on the charge that he incited insurrection at the US Capitol on 6 January.

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Sources told CNN the departures were down to disagreements over the proposed defence, with Mr Trump wanting the attorneys to argue that the election was stolen from him.

The former president insists the case is “simple”, the New York Times reports, telling advisers he could represent himself to save money, although aides claim he was joking.

The lawyers have not publicly commented on their decision to leave the team.

However, former Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller, said: “We have done much work, but have not made a final decision on our legal team, which will be made shortly."

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"The Democrats' efforts to impeach a president who has already left office is totally unconstitutional and so bad for our country. In fact, 45 Senators have already voted that it is unconstitutional,” he added.

This week 45 out of 50 Republican senators voted that presidents cannot face impeachment once they have left office.

The vote suggests Mr Trump is highly likely to be acquitted for a second time. For impeachment to pass 17 Republican senators and 50 Democrat Senators would need to vote that he is guilty.

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Mr Trump’s close friend and former personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has made clear he wants to be part of the legal team.

However, the US media reports suggest Mr Giuliani is himself a potential witness as he spoke at the rally of Trump supporters in Washington, hours before they marched on the Capitol.

Mr Giuliani is himself facing legal action. On Saturday evening, campaign group the Lincoln Project announced they will take legal action against Mr Giuliani for his claims that the insurrection was organised by someone with ties to the group.

Lincoln Project co-founder Steve Schmidt said he was "thrilled" he would have the opportunity to sue Mr Giuliani, tweeting: "I'm so happy that I'm literally choked up."