Former US president Donald Trump is left with no legal representation ahead of his second impeachment trial in Senate after five defence attorneys reportedly parted ways with the Republican leader. Butch Bowers and Deborah Barberi, the two lead attorneys working on Trump’s defence, abruptly left due to differences over strategy, reported news agency Reuters.
Johnny Gasser and Greg Harris from South Carolina are no longer part of the defence team and Josh Howard, who was recently added to the team, has also left. The Senate trial is scheduled to begin on February 9 and no attorneys have announced that they are working on the case. According to a CNN report, the attorneys were neither paid any fees in advance nor a letter of intent was ever signed.
Why the lead lawyers left?
Reports quoting people familiar with the situation claim that the South Carolina attorneys and Trump mutually decided to part ways after their differences over defence strategy ahead of the trial. Trump was reportedly still contending that he was a victim of massive electoral fraud. He wanted the lawyers to argue that the election was stolen from him and not on the legality of convicting a president after he has left the office, an argument several Republican lawmakers have made in defence of Trump.
Pat Cipollone and Patrick Philbin, Trump’s White House lawyers at the first impeachment trial, are not expected to take part in the proceedings. It is unclear who would represent the former president at the Senate trial even though a majority of Republican leaders have argued against the impeachment, making Trump’s conviction unlikely. The Senate will also enter into uncharted constitutional waters when the trial begins since no president in the history of the United States have faced trial after leaving the office.
In the aftermath of Capitol riots, Democrats-controlled House of Representatives, with support of 10 Republicans, impeached Trump on the charge of “Incitement of Insurrection”. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has argued that this impeachment trial will be different from last time since the whole world witnessed “president’s incitement and the violence that was used”.