Trump to add Dershowitz, Ken Starr to impeachment defense team

President TrumpDonald TrumpWarren says Republican party 'eating itself and it is discovering that the meal is poisonous' More than 75 Asian, LGBTQ groups oppose anti-Asian crime bill McConnell says he's 'great admirer' of Liz Cheney but mum on her removal MORE’s impeachment defense team for his Senate trial will include Alan DershowitzAlan Morton DershowitzDershowitz: Maxine Waters used KKK tactics to intimidate Chauvin jury Dershowitz advising MyPillow CEO's lawyers in Dominion case Kushner planning book about time in Trump White House: report MORE and Ken Starr, sources confirmed to The Hill on Friday.

Trump’s personal attorney Jay SekulowJay Alan SekulowThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by TikTok - New video of riot unnerves many senators Trump legal switch hints at larger problems Trump, House GOP relationship suddenly deteriorates MORE said the team will also consist of former attorneys Jane Raskin and Robert Ray, as well as former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Starr worked as independent counsel investigating former President Clinton over allegations that ultimately led to his impeachment. Ray followed Starr as independent counsel.


Dershowitz, a contributor to The Hill and a Harvard law professor who opposed Clinton’s impeachment, has defended clients like Jeffrey Epstein and O.J. Simpson. Raskin previously worked on Trump’s legal team during now-former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Bondi was hired by the White House in November to help its communications team with impeachment messaging. She has appeared on television to defend the president throughout the House inquiry.

Starr and Dershowitz have also made regular television appearances defending Trump against impeachment, a key factor for a president who values media savvy.

Starr will no longer work as a contributor for Fox News given his role in the impeachment trial, the network confirmed Friday.

Dershowitz confirmed to The Hill that he would present oral arguments at the Senate trial to “address the constitutional arguments against impeachment and removal.”


"Professor Dershowitz will present oral arguments at the Senate trial to address the constitutional arguments against impeachment and removal," read a statement on Dershowitz's addition to the team. "While Professor Dershowitz is non partisan when it comes to the constitution—he opposed the impeachment of President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonObama calls on governments to 'do their part' in increasing global vaccine supply China's emissions now eclipse the developed world — preventing climate protection Trump endorses Glenn Youngkin in Virginia governors race MORE and voted for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMore than half of eligible Latinos voted in 2020, setting record Fox News signs Trey Gowdy, Dan Bongino for new shows The Memo: GOP attacks bounce off Biden MORE— he believes the issues at stake go to the heart of our enduring Constitution.”

Dershowitz later downplayed his role in an interview on Dan Abrams's SiriusXM radio show, saying he was not a "full-fledged member" of the defense team and that his role would be limited to an hourlong constitutional argument.

The lawyers will join White House counsel Pat Cipollone and his deputies, along with Sekulow, in defending Trump against articles of impeachment accusing him of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Cipollone is expected to take a leading role defending Trump in the impeachment trial in the Senate, which is set to begin in earnest next week.

The White House officially announced the additions to the president’s legal team in a statement late Friday, revealing that Eric Herschmann of the Kasowitz firm would also play a role in Trump’s defense.

While there has been talk for several weeks that the White House might add Dershowitz to its defense team, the other attorneys come as a relative surprise.


Trump was also said to be considering House GOP lawmakers as part of his team.

The Democrat-controlled House last month impeached Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress amid allegations he withheld security aid and a White House meeting for Ukraine to pressure the country to announce investigations that could benefit his reelection campaign. The vote came nearly along party lines, with no Republicans voting in favor of impeachment. 

Trump has maintained he did nothing wrong and did not pressure Ukraine, describing his call with Ukraine’s president at the center of the House’s case as “perfect.” The White House has also accused House Democrats of a partisan effort to overturn the results of the 2016 election.

The Senate is scheduled to hold procedural votes for the trial on Tuesday. House impeachment managers will make opening arguments, followed by the White House defense team. The Senate, which is controlled by Republicans, is widely expect to acquit Trump. 

The White House has been tight-lipped about the substance of what it will argue, though Trump’s defenders have largely maintained throughout the impeachment process that he was focused on corruption in Ukraine and had the power as chief executive to set foreign policy. Trump’s legal team is expected to submit a legal brief responding to the allegations sometime before Monday, which should offer more clues as to how the lawyers plan to argue the president’s case. 

A senior administration official told reporters this week that they believe the impeachment case is so weak that the trial could be over within two weeks. However, a handful of Republican senators have indicated they are open to hearing witness testimony, which could extend the timeline and deliver additional evidence for and against Trump.

—Updated at 9:35 p.m.