Five attorneys quit days before impeachment trial and his backers turn on him

Five attorneys quit days before impeachment trial and his backers turn on him
Gage Skidmore.

Former President Donald Trump is apparently having some trouble finding legal representation in his upcoming impeachment trial. All five lawyers, including former federal litigators and Trump's anticipated lead attorneys Butch Bowers and Deborah Barbier, have quit less than two weeks before the trial is scheduled to begin the week of February 8, unnamed sources told CNN. Other attorneys with the good sense to distance themselves from Trump include South Carolina lawyers Johnny Gasser and Greg Harris and Josh Howard, a North Carolina attorney who worked on the Monica Lewinsky investigation during former President Bill Clinton's time in office, CNN reported.

"A person familiar with the situation called it a 'mutual" decision,' New York Times correspondent Maggie Haberman tweeted Saturday. "Bowers has been noticeably muted for someone leading a Trump defense, choosing not to talk to most reporters. The person familiar with the situation said there was no chemistry between Bowers and Trump."

The legal team's decision to leave reportedly boiled down to a disagreement about legal strategy in the case, with Trump wanting them to argue the clearly unwinnable case that he's a victim of mass election fraud. The reality TV star's better case is that impeaching a former president is unconstitutional, but even that is a toss-up considering it's not actually mentioned in the constitution, legal scholars told various news agencies. Trump's team—and by team, I mean the few remaining people linked to his presidency who aren't desperately trying to distance themselves from him—is clutching to the constitutionality argument.

"The Democrats' efforts to impeach a president who has already left office is totally unconstitutional and so bad for our country," Trump's former campaign adviser Jason Miller told CNN. "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."

Despite GOP sentiments these days that impeaching a former president is unconstitutional, Rep. Matt Gaetz argued the exact opposite point on Twitter Dec. 4, 2019, when Trump suggested former President Barack Obama should be impeached for his stance on healthcare. "You actually can impeach a former President, FWIW", Gaetz tweeted.

Republican Sen. Tom Cotton said in a statement The Washington Post obtained that the Senate "lacks constitutional authority to conduct impeachment proceedings against a former president." "The Founders designed the impeachment process as a way to remove officeholders from public office — not an inquest against private citizens," Cotton said.

The Post's fact-checking team, however, gave a less definitive analysis:

"Some argue it's impossible to impeach former officials. Some say it's possible — if Congress wants to ban them from holding federal office again. One scholar said a definitive answer would come only after a court battle on these issues.
For now, no court appears to have ruled on this question, the text of the Constitution doesn't spell out the answer, and past practice in Congress is an inconclusive guide."

What's more conclusive is just how much damage Trump did when he made repeated claims of widespread election fraud then challenged his supporters to block Congress from certifying President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory. "We will never give up. "We will never concede. It doesn't happen," Trump said at the Save America rally before the riot at the Capitol. "You don't concede when there's theft involved. Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore, and that is what this is all about."

Ten House Republicans joined 222 Democrats in a vote to impeach Trump on January 13, and as it turns out, even supporters of the former president who are charged in connection to the Capitol riot are now arguing Trump made them do it, CNN reported. Jacob Anthony Chansley otherwise known as the "QAnon shaman" who appeared horned, shirtless, and draped in bearskin during the riot, said through an attorney that he was "duped" by Trump, according to CNN. Chansley was arrested earlier this month on federal charges of "knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority" and violent entry, and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

"You become very self-interested very quickly when you've been charged by the Department of Justice," Elie Honig, a former federal litigator and CNN analyst, said on the news network. "Whatever political mission these people thought they were on while invading the Capitol, now that they might get locked up, they'll point the finger wherever they need to. Political goals now go out the window."


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