Ahead of his looming second Senate impeachment trial, ex-President Donald Trump’s entire legal team has apparently stepped away from his defense. That’s a total of five lawyers who quit, and according to ABC News, their departures were “in part” because of “disagreements over how to mount Trump’s defense.” The lawyers “planned to argue the constitutionality of holding a trial given Trump is now a former president,” according to ABC, but Trump apparently wanted the legal team to “argue there was election fraud,” the outlet adds. In other words, Donald Trump is out of office and living at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida — and apparently still obsessing over imaginary election fraud.
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) January 31, 2021
Previously, Rudy Giuliani and Jay Sekulow, both of whom were involved in Trump’s defense for his first impeachment trial, indicated that they would not participate in the second round of proceedings. The lawyers who newly abandoned Trump’s defense — in a break that a source for ABC who is “close” to Trump characterized as a “mutual” parting of ways — include Butch Bowers, Deborah Barbier, Josh Howard, Johnny Gasser, and Greg Harris. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a prominent ally of Trump, apparently personally advocated for Bowers’s now cancelled involvement in the proceedings and “told his Senate GOP colleagues on Jan. 21 that Bowers would be representing Trump,” according to ABC.
Originally, the Democrat-led House impeached Trump — for a second time overall — on a charge of incitement of insurrection. On January 6, a violent mob of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building, hoping to forcibly stop Congressional proceedings to certify the electoral college outcome and Biden’s win. The mob inflicted lethal injuries on Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who was struck by a fire extinguisher and died soon afterward, and numerous other officers sustained serious injuries. During the chaos, members of Congress, staff members, and many others who were on scene were suddenly in serious and potentially lethal danger. At an earlier outdoor event in D.C., then-President Trump directly admonished his supporters to “fight like hell” over the imaginary election fraud.
According to ABC, “Sources believe there will be another round of additions to the team in the coming days though the process is nowhere near finalized with just over a week to go.” Once the trial takes place, two-thirds of the chamber would have to agree on a conviction in order for it to take effect, and with the Senate’s current party breakdown, that would require 17 Republicans to join all 50 Democrats in voting to convict. Recently, a full 45 Republicans voted against moving forward with the trial at all, so a conviction seems unlikely thanks to the loyalty of the GOP.