Published: Feb 01, 2021, 07.15 AM(IST)
Former US President Donald Trump announced Sunday that he had hired two new lawyers to head his defence team for his historic second impeachment trial.
Lawyers David Schoen and Bruce Castor will head the defence effort in the trial set to begin on February 9, Trump’s office said in a statement. Schoen had already been helping Trump and advisers prepare for the proceedings, according to the former president’s office.
Butch Bowers and Deborah Barbier, both South Carolina lawyers, have left the defence team in what one person described as a ”mutual decision” that reflected a difference of opinion on the direction of the case. The change injects fresh uncertainty into the makeup and strategy of his defence team.
Trump, who left office January 20, faces trial on a charge that he incited the mob that stormed the US Capitol building in an effort to block his election loss to President Joe Biden.
The trial is historic both because it stems from Trump being impeached a second time during his four years in the White House, and is the first of a former United States president.
Forty-five Senate Republicans backed a failed effort last week to halt Trump’s impeachment trial, in a show of party unity that some cited as a clear sign Trump will not be convicted of inciting insurrection at the Capitol.
The trial, in which Trump faces a charge of “incitement of insurrection” is to begin on February 9.
But with just five Republicans joining all 50 Democrats this week in agreeing that the trial should go forward, it appears unlikely that 17 Republicans would vote against Trump, the minimum number needed to reach the two-thirds threshold for conviction.
Schoen previously represented Trump’s former adviser Roger Stone, who was convicted in November 2019 of lying under oath to lawmakers investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. Trump pardoned Stone in December 2020, weeks before leaving the office on January 20.
Castor is a former Pennsylvania district attorney known for his decision not to prosecute entertainer Bill Cosby in 2005 after a woman accused Cosby of sexual assault. In 2017, Castor sued Cosby’s accuser in the case for defamation, claiming she destroyed his political career in retaliation.
Cosby, 83, is now serving a three-to-10-year sentence in a state prison near Philadelphia after being found guilty in a 2018 trial of drugging and raping a onetime friend at his home in 2004.