President Donald Trump on Sunday made a big change to the legal defense team that will fight against the attempt to unconstitutionally impeach him.
The two lawyers who will represent the former president in the upcoming Senate trial are David Schoen, an attorney from Alabama, and Bruce Castor Jr., a former prosecutor in Pennsylvania.
This announcement comes just a day after media reports said Trump’s previous legal team fell apart – claiming that an earlier group of attorneys from South Carolina were no longer participating in the defense.
South Carolina-based lawyer Butch Bowers had previously been tapped to lead the president’s legal team but parted ways over differing opinions on the direction of the defense arguments, the reports said. Other lawyers on the team who also left were Deborah Barbier and former federal prosecutors Greg Harris, Johnny Gasser, and Josh Howard.
Jason Miller, a Trump adviser, confirmed the reports of a reshuffle on Saturday evening, saying that the “final decision on our legal team” had not yet been made.
On Sunday, Trump’s office released a statement saying that Schoen and Castor would now lead the team, and that Schoen had already been working with Trump and other advisors in preparing for the upcoming trial.
“It is an honor to represent the 45th President, Donald J. Trump, and the United States Constitution,” Schoen said in the statement.
The new team has about one week to strategize what direction it will take in the defense. Opening arguments are scheduled to begin on the week of Feb. 8.
Republicans have begun uniting behind the argument that the Senate impeachment trial of a former president is unconstitutional, a question that has sparked a heated debate among legal scholars and lawmakers.
“Dem. efforts to impeach a pres. who has already left office is unconstitutional & so bad for our country. In fact, 45 Senators have already voted that it is unconstitutional,” Miller said in a statement.
On Jan. 26, Sen. Rand Paul raised a point of order on the Senate floor, forcing the chamber to take a stance on the constitutionality of the upcoming proceedings. The Senate ultimately voted 55-45, meaning that the trial will go ahead. But it also revealed that nearly half of the chamber is of the view that the proceedings are unconstitutional.
Castor said the upcoming trial is expected to test the “strength of our Constitution.”
“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,” he said in the statement.
The Democrat-controlled House on Jan. 13 voted 232–197 to impeach Trump on a single article of impeachment, alleging that the president incited an “insurrection” that caused the U.S. Capitol breach on Jan. 6.
The impeachment was completed in a single seven-hour session and has been criticized by Republicans for its expediency and lack of due process.
Although Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is going ahead with the impeachment trial, the 55-45 vote for Paul’s order could be an indication that a Trump conviction is unlikely as a two-thirds majority is needed to convict.