Former President Donald Trump has suddenly been left without a legal defense team a little more than a week before his impeachment trial is set to begin. It seems the lawyers parted ways with Trump over disagreements about strategy, with the ex president insisting that his lawyers focus on baseless claims of voter fraud and push the lie that the election was stolen from him. His lawyers reportedly wanted to focus instead on whether it was even legal to convict a president after he has left office, according to CNN, which was first to report the departures that were later confirmed by others.
A source close to Trump disputed the characterization to the New York Times, claiming the departure was not due to Trump’s insistence on pushing the election fraud narrative, but did acknowledge that it had to do with a difference of opinion on strategy. The former president is apparently convinced the defense should be simple and he has allegedly told allies he could represent himself and save money, although his aides insist he isn’t actually thinking of being his own attorney.
The biggest name to leave the team was Butch Bowers, who was the lead lawyer on the team. His hiring was announced last week with Sen. Lindsey Graham characterizing the South Carolina attorney as the “anchor” of Trump’s legal team. Graham was the one who helped get Bowers into Trump’s team in the first place. The decision for Bowers to leave is being described as “mutual” as he apparently never clicked with Trump. One thing the former president never really liked was how Bowers was not fond of going on television to defend him.
Deborah Barbier, another lawyer from South Carolina who was a top member of the defense team has also left. Two other lawyers from South Carolina, Johnny Gasser and Greg Harris, are also stepping down from the team as is Josh Howard, a lawyer from North Carolina.
Trump’s spokesperson said that the former president’s new legal team will be announced shortly. “We have done much work, but have not made a final decision on our legal team, which will be made shortly,” Trump spokesperson Jason Miller said. But the clock is ticking. Trump has until Tuesday to file a response to the impeachment charges put forward by the House of Representatives, where 10 Republicans joined all the Democrats in saying Trump helped incite the Jan. 6 insurrection on the Capitol. The former president’s second impeachment trial is scheduled to begin on Feb. 9.