Former President Donald Trump has parted ways with his lead impeachment lawyers just over a week before his Senate trial is set to begin, two people familiar with the situation said on Saturday.
The move has left Trump’s legal strategy in disarray as the two lead lawyers were working on his defence for his Senate impeachment trial.
Butch Bowers and Deborah Barbier, both South Carolina lawyers, are no longer with Trump’s defence team. One of the people described the parting as a “mutual decision” that reflected a difference of opinion on the direction of the case. Both insisted on anonymity to discuss private conversations, according to Reuters.
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 Nov. 3 election won by President Joe Biden.
The upheaval injects fresh uncertainty into the makeup and strategy of Trump’s defense team as he prepares to face charges that he incited the insurrection at the US Capitol on Jan. 6. However, all but five Senate Republicans this week voted in favor of an effort to dismiss the trial before it even started, making clear a conviction of the former president is unlikely regardless of his defense team.
It leaves Trump’s defense team in turmoil as he prepares for a trial starting on Feb. 9 to consider an article of impeachment passed by the House of Representatives charging Trump with inciting the Jan. 6 storming of the US Capitol by his followers.
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.
“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.