Former US President Donald Trump hired two new lawyers to head his defence team for his historic second impeachment trial set to begin next week.
Trump’s announcement on Sunday follows reports he abruptly parted ways with several of his impeachment lawyers.
Lawyers David Schoen and Bruce Castor will head the defence effort in the trial set to begin in the US Senate 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.
Both attorneys issued statements through Trump’s office saying they were honoured to take the job.
“The strength of our Constitution is about to be tested like never before in our history. It is strong and resilient. A document written for the ages, and it will triumph over partisanship yet again, and always,” said Castor.
Butch Bowers and Deborah Barberi, two South Carolina lawyers, are no longer on Trump’s team, sources familiar with the situation told news agencies on Saturday, describing their departure as a “mutual decision”.
Castor has focused on criminal law throughout his career, while Schoen specialises in “civil rights litigation in Alabama and federal criminal defence work, including white collar and other complex cases, in New York”, the statement said.
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. He is due to file a response to the impeachment charges on Tuesday.
The trial is historic on two fronts, marking the first time a president has been impeached twice and the first time a former United States president has faced such a trial.
Schoen had already been working with the defence team, and he and Castor “agree that this impeachment is unconstitutional”, the statement said.
Schoen previously represented Trump’s former adviser Roger Stone, who was convicted in November 2019 of lying under oath to legislators investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. Trump pardoned Stone in December 2020.
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 after being found guilty in a 2018 trial of drugging and raping a onetime friend at his home in 2004.
Trump has reportedly been struggling to form a defence ahead of his historic trial, facing new hurdles with just days to go.
But with only five Republicans joining all 50 Democrats this week in agreeing 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.