Trump announces new impeachment legal team after reported departures

Former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump hails Arizona Senate for audit at Phoenix rally, slams governor Arkansas governor says it's 'disappointing' vaccinations have become 'political' Watch live: Trump attends rally in Phoenix MORE on Sunday announced a new legal defense team for his Senate impeachment trial, a day after it was reported that his previous lead attorney and four others would no longer represent him.

Lawyers David Schoen and Bruce L. Castor Jr. will lead Trump's defense against the accusations that he incited the riot at the Capitol building on Jan. 6, the former president announced.

The trial, in which Trump faces an article of impeachment charging incitement of insurrection, is slated to begin next month. Senate leaders agreed to wait until Feb. 9 to give the former president enough time to form a defense. 

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Schoen, a federal criminal defense lawyer, called it “an honor” to represent Trump “and the United States Constitution” in a press release. Castor, the former acting attorney general in Pennsylvania, similarly labeled his joining the team “a privilege.”

“The strength of our Constitution is about to be tested like never before in our history,” Castor said. “It is strong and resilient. A document written for the ages, and it will triumph over partisanship yet again, and always.”

The new legal team members were announced following multiple reports that Butch Bowers, the former lead attorney expected to defend Trump, left the defense team. Two attorneys close to the situation told Politico about the South Carolina lawyer’s departure from Trump’s team.

Reports from The Associated Press and CNN also indicated four other members also departed the team, including Deborah Barbier, Josh Howard, Johnny Gasser and Greg Harris.

The multiple exits came as the attorneys wanted to focus on the legality of impeachment, while the former president wanted to continue promoting unfounded claims about widespread election fraud leading to his loss, according to CNN.

The House impeached Trump about a week before President Biden’s inauguration after the former president urged his supporters to march to the Capitol ahead of the deadly Jan. 6 riots that resulted in five deaths, including the death of a Capitol Police officer. 

The timing has led to an upcoming unprecedented trial involving a president no longer in office. Forty-five Republican senators voted last week that the trial is unconstitutional because Trump is now a private citizen. 

The Senate is unlikely to convict Trump, as 17 Republicans would need to vote against the former president in order for the chamber to find him guilty.