Former President Donald Trump’s impeachment defense team has collapsed just days of ahead of his Senate impeachment trial, according to multiple news reports.
Multiple reports indicated that Butch Bowers, a South Carolina lawyer who assembled the impeachment defense team, and Deborah Barbier, a criminal defense lawyer in South Carolina, were no longer going to be part of Trump’s team and that the decision was “mutual.” Josh Howard, a North Carolina attorney, has also reportedly left Trump’s team, and South Carolina lawyers Johnny Gasser and Greg Harris are also reportedly out.
“The Democrats’ efforts to impeach a president who has already left office is totally unconstitutional and so bad for our country,” Jason Miller, an adviser to the former president, told The Daily Wire. “In fact, 45 Senators have already voted that it is unconstitutional. We have done much work, but have not made a final decision on our legal team, which will be made shortly.”
Republican strategist and Mitch McConnell ally Janet Mullins Grissom commented on the situation, writing: “If you’re Trump this is rather a no brainer. With Senate Rs aka the jury on record that impeaching former president is unconstitutional why spend money on lawyers?”
If you’re Trump this is rather a no brainer. With Senate Rs aka the jury on record that impeaching former president is unconstitutional why spend money on lawyers ? https://t.co/VSgLRBoAPg
— Janet Mullins Grissom (@JMullinsGrissom) January 31, 2021
CNN, The New York Times, and The Associated Press noted that the team fell apart after Trump wanted them to focus on claims that the election was stolen from through election fraud — a claim that former Attorney General William Barr, a favorite in Trump world, had completely dismissed as false. The lawyers reportedly said no, and that was when the parties decided to part ways.
Barr, who authorized federal prosecutors to pursue every legitimate claim of election fraud immediately after the election, later said that prosecutors had “not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”
Barr was confronted by Trump in early December about his comments that the election was not stolen.
“These things aren’t panning out,” Barr told the president, standing beside his chief of staff Will Levi. “The stuff that these people are filling your ear with just isn’t true.” Barr explained that if Trump wanted to contest the election results, the president’s internal campaign lawyers would have to do it.
The Justice Department, he continued, had looked at the major fraud allegations that Trump’s lawyers had leveled. “It’s just bullshit,” Barr told the president. [White House counsel Pat] Cipollone backed up Barr by saying the DOJ was investigating these claims.
The report indicated that Cipollone and others in the room were stunned that Barr came out and said it in such a blunt manner, even though they agreed. Barr reportedly warned Trump that his legal team was “clownish.”
“I’m a pretty informed legal observer and I can’t f***ing figure out what the theory is here,” Barr reportedly said in reference to the claims that Trump’s legal team were making. “It’s just scattershot. It’s all over the hill and gone.”
“Maybe,” Trump said, according to Axios. “Maybe.”
This report has been updated to include additional information.