Former President Donald Trump‘s legal team for the upcoming impeachment trial has been in a lot of flux lately. First, no less than five attorneys reportedly ducked out. Two more lawyers are on the team, however. The statement also notes these members–David Schoen and Bruce L. Castor Jr.–agree that the impeachment is unconstitutional.
Trump announces NEW impeachment legal team pic.twitter.com/HnIoByDM02
— Eric Lipton (@EricLiptonNYT) January 31, 2021
“I consider it a privilege to represent the 45th President,” Castor said in a statement. “The strength of our Constitution is about to be tested like never before in our history. It is strong and resilient. A document written for the age, and it will trump over partisanship yet again, and always.”
The final vote at trial threatens to be a partisan affair. Trump supporters raided the Capitol Building on January 6 after then-POTUS gave an incendiary speech from the nearby Ellipse Park, claiming that he actually won the 2020 presidential election and it was being stolen from him. Trump said they were all going to the Capitol (he didn’t). They postponed, but did not prevent Congress from certifying results for current President Joe Biden. Five people died amid the chaos: four Trump supporters, and one Capitol officer. Another Capitol officer, a D.C. Metro officer, and an insurrection defendant each died by suicide mere days after the incident.
The Dem-led House voted for impeachment. That’s an easy enough affair. They just needed a simple majority. Only 10 Republicans joined them, however. 45 of them in the Senate voted to outright dismiss the impeachment trial. That casts significant doubt on whether the chamber could realistically get to the two-thirds majority required to convict and disqualify him from further office.
The new statement is noteworthy because it also signals that they’ve settled on an approach to the allegations. Trump adviser Jason Miller previously discussed the constitutionality issue in a tweet.
Dem. efforts to impeach a pres. who has already left office is unconstitutional & so bad for our country. 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. https://t.co/OQIugh0A8F
— Jason Miller (@JasonMillerinDC) January 31, 2021
But this happened amid CNN reporting that Trump had wanted his attorneys to argue there was widespread voter fraud against him. (There was not. Post-election court disputes waged by his campaign and certain supporters lost in what was pretty much a shutout across the country.)
A third attorney, Josh Howard, who was also recently added to Trump’s defense team, has also left, I’m told. Trump wanted the attorneys to argue there was mass election fraud and it was stolen from him rather than focus on proposed arguments about constitutionality.
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) January 31, 2021
Instead, an argument on constitutionality would likely on whether the trial is a moot point because Trump left office. A group of Republican Senators voted to signify that they also consider it unconstitutional to try a president on articles of impeachment who has already left office. Many, though not all, legal scholars see things differently, but Miller’s tweet suggested that Trump may predictably raise the issue as a defense. The statement on the new lawyers reinforces this.
Schoen’s and Castor’s names will likely be familiar. Schoen previously served as an attorney for Trump surrogate and pardonee Roger Stone. Castor was incidentally the former District Attorney for Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, where he passed up on prosecuting disgraced comedian and convicted sexual assailant Bill Cosby.
Aaron Keller contributed to this report.
[Image via ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images]
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