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NEWS & ANALYSIS

Trump Assigns New Legal Team 1 Week Before Trial: What Happened, What Does This Mean?

With just one week until his impeachment trial in the Senate, Donald Trump named two new attorneys to his defense team. 

At least three of the team of five lawyers who were expected to represent the former president, led by South Carolina lawyer Butch Bowers, resigned due to disagreements over how to mount Trump’s defense. 

The three: Butch Bowers, Deborah Barbier and Joshua Howard. 

Now leading the team are attorneys David Schoen and Bruce Castor Jr., both of whom are experienced in criminal defense, according to NPR. 

So, what happened? 

The original five lawyers planned to argue the constitutionality of holding an impeachment trial considering Trump is now a private citizen. However, the former president apparently wanted his team to argue that there was election fraud, ABC News reports. 

Trump adviser Jason Miller debunked this claim, saying the former president did not ask the lawyers to do any such thing and suggesting otherwise was “fake news.”

The change in defense was described as a “mutual decision” between parties. 

In a statement, Trump’s office said Schoen has been preparing with other advisers.  

“Notably, Schoen has already been working with the 45th President and other advisors to prepare for the upcoming trial, and both Schoen and Castor agree that this impeachment is unconstitutional – a fact 45 Senators voted in agreement with last week.” 

The aforementioned vote was held in the Senate last week, in which 45 out of 50 GOP senators voted that the trial directly violates the Constitution. 

In a statement, Castor said: “I consider it a privilege to represent the 45th President. 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 ages, and it will triumph over partisanship yet again, and always.” 

Trump was impeached by the House on January 13 on a single article: “incitement of insurrection.” The Senate trial, set for February 8, would require a two-thirds vote – or 67 senators – to convict, meaning that 17 GOP senators would need to cross party lines and vote with the democrats, which is highly unlikely. 

“The democrats’ efforts to impeach a president who has already left office is totally unconstitutional and so bad for our country, Jason Miller told ABC News Saturday. “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.” 

Sources believe there will be another round of additions to the team in the coming days, ABC News reports. 

Trump’s legal team has until Tuesday to respond to the article of impeachment passed by the House. 

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