The implosion of former president Donald Trump’s legal team comes as Trump remains fixated on arguing at his second impeachment trial that the 2020 election was stolen from him, a defense that advisers warn is ill-conceived and Republican strategists fear will fuel the growing divide in the GOP.
South Carolina lawyer Karl S. “Butch” Bowers Jr. and four other attorneys who recently signed on to represent the former president abruptly parted ways with him this weekend, days before his Feb. 9 Senate trial for his role in inciting the attack on the U.S. Capitol. On Sunday evening, Trump’s office announced two new lawyers were taking over his defense.
Two people familiar with the discussions preceding the departure of the original legal team said that Trump wanted them to make the case during the trial that he actually won the election. To do so would require citing his false claims of election fraud — even as his allies and attorneys have said that he should instead focus on arguing that impeaching a president who has already left office is unconstitutional.
Trump’s lawyers had initially planned to center their strategy on the question of whether the proceedings were constitutional and on the definition of incitement.