Trump names new impeachment team lawyers

Thursday, 04 Feb, 2021

In the pre-trial brief, Castor and Schoen argue the Senate, which is set to begin hearing the case next week, can not vote to impeach Trump because he no longer holds office.

Moreover, trying to bar Trump from holding future office under the 14th Amendment - originally used to disenfranchise Confederates after the Civil War - is "irrelevant" because it is conditioned on his removal from office, which can not happen for the simple reason Trump isn't in office any more, the lawyers said.

Trump replaced his legal team over the weekend, hiring lawyers David Schoen and Bruce Castor.

Even so, Democrats seeking his conviction on one count of "incitement of insurrection" face an uphill climb.

Former President Donald Trump did not incite the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol and can not be banned from holding office again because he is a private citizen, Mr. Five people died in the chaos. If Trump is convicted, Congress could bar him from holding public office again.

The House brief asserts that the Senate had jurisdiction to try Trump because he was in office at the time that the House impeached him. They point out that the article of impeachment was voted on while he was still in office, for actions taken while he was in office.

One person familiar with their thinking said Bowers and another SC lawyer, Deborah Barbier, left the team because Trump wanted them to use a defense that relied on allegations of election fraud, and the lawyers were not willing to do so.

Democrats insist, despite little chance of a conviction.

"It will be a permanent stain on the history of the Republican Party and the legacy of its members in the U.S. Senate if they fail to find a way to hold a president of their party to account for this unprecedented mayhem at our nation's Capitol", the group wrote. Trump was not receptive to the discussions about how they should proceed in that regard.

That claim, despite there being no evidence to support it, propelled the violent assault on the US Capitol that forced Trump's vice president Mike Pence to go into secure hiding and left hundreds of members of Congress fearing for their safety.

The decision for Bowers to leave was "mutual", another person familiar with the situation said, adding that Trump and Bowers had no chemistry - a quality the former president generally prizes in his relationships.

The impeachment, the response continued, is purely political and attempts to target the former US leader for exercising his First Amendment rights to speak to a crowd at the Capitol on that fatal day as well as "express his opinion that the election results were suspect, as is contained in the full recording of the speech". Trump pardoned Stone in December. In 2017, he sued Cosby's accuser in the case for defamation, claiming she destroyed his political career in retaliation.

Oral arguments for Trump's second impeachment trial are scheduled to begin on February 9. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer recently told the MSNBC broadcaster that audio and video material would be used to lay out the case against Trump, along with witness testimony.

Trump's lawyers from his impeachment trial a year ago are not expected to be involved this time. Blount's trial was halted before the Senate could decide its verdict and Belknap was acquitted.

Democrats, who now hold a razor-thin majority in the Senate, will have more say over how this trial will be conducted.

Winning the support of 10 Republicans would be significant for Biden, potentially giving him the votes needed in the 50-50 Senate where Harris is the tie-breaker.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that while there were areas of agreement, "the president also reiterated his view that Congress must respond boldly and urgently, and noted many areas which the Republican senators' proposal does not address". The Democrats urged the Senate to bar Trump from holding office again.