Donald Trump is going through a rough patch in the courts and ahead of the impeachment proceedings.
The boat has been rocked even before the trial starts. His defence team has collapsed. Remarkably enough, within 24 hours he has named two new lawyers for the impeachment trial.
Trump’s office has announced that David Schoen and Bruce L. Castor, Jr. will now head the legal team for his second impeachment trial. One major point of friction with his previous team was that the former President wanted the attorneys to focus on his election fraud claims rather than the constitutionality of convicting a former President.
In the net, the impeachment defence team left less than two weeks before the trial. Trump has struggled to find lawyers willing to take his case as he refuses to budge from his false claims.
His advisers have been talking to him about his legal strategy and he keeps bringing up election fraud for his defence. They have repeatedly tried to steer him away from that. It is rather unusual for the client to be so unmindful of counsel. Yet so it has been in the United States. The parting of ways with the previous team has been described as a “mutual decision”, which underscored a difference of opinion on the direction of the case.
The development renders the defence strategy still more uncertain as the former President gears up to face charges that he incited the insurrection at the Capitol on 6 January. However, all but five Senate Republicans have this week voted in favour of an effort to dismiss the trial even before it starts. Greg Harris and Johnny Gasser, two former federal prosecutors from South Carolina, have left the team. Butch Bowers and Deborah Barbier resigned because Trump wanted them to use election fraud as a defence.
The former President has been straining his nerves to find attorneys who are willing to defend him after becoming the first President in American history to be impeached twice. He is scheduled to stand trial in the week beginning 8 February on a charge that he incited his supporters to vandalise Congress before Joe Biden’s inauguration as President.
This was quite distinctly an attempt to disrupt the peaceful transition of power. Numerous attorneys, who had defended him previously, declined to take on the case. Bowers, said to be a familiar figure in Republican legal circles, has years of experience representing elected officials and political candidates including the Governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford, against a failed impeachment effort that became a probe into matters ethical.
The parting of the ways with the previous team of lawyers hasn’t really strengthened Trump’s defences. He will have to rethink his strategy if he is to succeed in thwarting his prosecutors from ensuring he becomes ineligible for public office.