The defense team is said to have resigned from its strategy after the former US president insisted he was the victim of electoral fraud.
Former US President Donald Trump abruptly separated from lawyers working on his defense for his Senate impeachment trial, routing the former president’s legal strategy, media reported.
Butch Bowers and Deborah Barberi, two lawyers from South Carolina, are no longer on Trump’s team in a move described as a “mutual decision,” sources told news agencies The Associated Press and Reuters.
Three other lawyers associated with the team – Josh Howard of North Carolina and Johnny Gasser and Greg Harris of South Carolina – have also separated from Trump, another source said.
A third source said Trump had differences with Bowers over pre-trial strategy. The former president still claims to have been the victim of massive voter fraud in the November 3 election won by President Joe Biden.
The reshuffle leaves Trump’s defense team in turmoil as he prepares for a trial beginning February 9 to consider an impeachment article passed by the House of Representatives accusing Trump of incitement. the storming of January 6 of the United States Capitol by its supporters.
It was unclear who would now represent the former president at trial. His White House lawyers in his first impeachment trial last year, Pat Cipollone and Patrick Philbin, are not expected to participate in the proceedings.
Forty-five Senate Republicans backed a failed effort last Tuesday to end Trump’s impeachment trial, in a show of party unity that some have cited as a clear sign he will not be convicted of incitement to the insurrection on the Capitol.
“The Democrats’ efforts to remove a president who has already left office are totally unconstitutional and so bad for our country,” Trump adviser Jason Miller said.
“In fact, 45 senators have already voted that it is unconstitutional. We’ve done a lot of work, but haven’t made a final decision regarding our legal team, which will be made shortly, ”Miller said.
Clyde Wilcox, a government professor at Georgetown University, said Trump was unlikely to be convicted because it would take two-thirds of the Senate.
“So as long as he’s not really wrong, he will be acquitted,” Wilcox told Al Jazeera.
“His best defense is the argument he started making last week that he would go and start a Patriot Party. This threat is enough to keep many Republican senators online. He also threatens to come forward and defend himself. It would be quite a circus, but it would also be a disaster.
Trump has struggled to find lawyers willing to defend him after becoming the first president in history to be impeached twice.
After many lawyers who had defended him previously refused to take on the case, Trump was introduced to Bowers by one of his closest allies in the Senate, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.
Bowers, a figure familiar with Republican legal circles, had years of experience representing elected officials and political candidates, including South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, against a failed impeachment effort that turned into an ethical inquiry.
Bowers and Barbier did not immediately return any messages seeking comment on Saturday night.
Republicans and Trump aides have made it clear that they intend to make a simple argument: Trump’s trial is unconstitutional because he is no longer in office.
As Republicans in Washington appeared keen to part ways with Trump after the deadly Jan.6 events, they have since relaxed their criticism, tired of angering the former president’s loyal electoral base.