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Five attorneys who were prepared to defend former President Donald Trump in his upcoming Senate impeachment trial have departed his legal team, people familiar with the situation confirmed to CNN and The New York Times. Butch Bowers and Deborah Barbier, who were expected to be two of the lead attorneys, are out, as are Josh Howard, Johnny Gasser, and Greg Harris. No other attorneys have announced they were involved with the case, so it appears that, for now, Trump is defenseless.
The lawyers reportedly left because of a disagreement over legal strategy. Trump reportedly wanted them to push his unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud in last year's presidential election rather than focus on whether convicting a former president after he's out of office is constitutional, an argument that appears to be the consensus among Republicans and the reason he'll likely be acquitted. Bowers, a source said, lacked chemistry with Trump and the decision to leave was reportedly mutual.
It's unclear where Trump will go from here — his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani reportedly wants to take the case, but he's a potential witness in the trial because he spoke at the rally preceding the deadly Capitol riot Trump is accused of inciting, and the Times notes "almost all" of Trump's advisers blame Giuliani for the impeachment in the first place.
Considering GOP senators have signaled they won't vote to convict, some are wondering why Trump would even bother spending money on attorneys at all at this point.
And here is a statement Trump has made to advisers almost verbatim > https://t.co/zktWOIrUD6
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) January 31, 2021
Stephen Bannon, Trump's former chief strategist, thinks the former president should go the Senate himself because "he's the only one who can sell it." However, aides are reportedly against the idea. Read more at The New York Times and CNN.