Trump dejected with his impeachment attorney's performance at trial


Washington DC
Picture Via Getty Images
Picture Via Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump was unhappy with his impeachment lawyer Bruce Castor's opening argument on the Senate floor Tuesday, people close to him said.

Castor, alongside attorney David Schoen, who are presenting their case in support of President Trump, delivered their argument during the first day of the Senate impeachment trial, including praise for the House impeachment managers for a presentation that he said was "well done."

The legal team assembled little arguments and evidence over a week, hence, the performance went as expected but Trump was furious as Castor struggled to tear down the defense team's argument over the constitutionality of holding an impeachment trial for a president who no longer holds office. 

Still, Trump's allies were startled when the attorneys switched speaking slots at the last minute.

Castor's presentation widely the praise of the Senate, including his home state Pennsylvania senators, Republican Pat Toomey and Democrat Bob Casey, arguing that the Senate should not hold the second impeachment trial after in13 months as it could "open the floodgates" to future impeachments, even making the unfounded rhetorical suggestion that former Obama administration Attorney General Eric Holder could be impeached.

The Senate ultimately voted 56-44 that the impeachment trial is constitutional.

An adviser to Trump's team offered a candid assessment of the messy opening day, asking pointedly, "What the hell is going on?"

The adviser said the former President could be in serious jeopardy if he finds himself charged in criminal court, given his inability to attract a high-powered legal team for the impeachment trial.

"Trump is f--ked if anyone ever charges him. No one wants to work with him," the adviser said.

Schoen was supposed to present first, not Castor, two people familiar with the plan as reported by CNN. But Castor told the Senate that Trump's legal team "changed what we were going to do on account that we thought that the House managers' presentation was well done."

After Castor yielded to Schoen, the tone of the defense team changed starkly. Schoen charged that Democrats were using impeachment as a political "blood sport" to try to keep Trump from running for office again, accusing them of trying to disenfranchise pro-Trump voters.

Though the former President was displeased by his defense team's early performance, his staff remained confident that he was headed for acquittal and it would not change the outcome of the trial. Two separate sources close to Trump say he's lying low through the end of the trial but talking with aides about how to reemerge and help Republicans around the midterm elections.

A separate senior adviser to Trump insisted that Castor was attempting to lower the emotional temperature in the Senate before Schoen began his presentation.

"This is about lowering the temperature following the Democrats' emotionally charged opening, before dropping the hammer on the unconstitutional nature of this impeachment witch hunt," the adviser said.
But even some GOP senators signaled they were unimpressed with the presentation.

Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas -- who nonetheless noted that the trial was unconstitutional -- told reporters bluntly, "I thought the President's lawyer -- the first lawyer -- just rambled on and on and on and didn't address the constitutional argument."

"Finally the second lawyer got around to it, and, I thought, did an effective job." He quickly added, "But I've seen a lot of lawyers and a lot of arguments and that was -- it was not one of the finest I've seen."

Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, who was the only senator to vote differently than in a procedural vote last month on the constitutionality of the trial, told reporters that the "House managers were focused, they were organized" and "made a compelling argument," while in contrast, "President Trump's team were disorganized."

"They did everything they could but to talk about the question at hand, and when they talked about it they kind of glided over, almost as if they were embarrassed about their arguments," Cassidy said.

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska similarly said: "Today was supposed to be an opportunity to, to be briefed on the constitutionality of whether or not you can move forward with an impeachment of a former president."

"I thought that -- that the House presented a pretty good, pretty good legal analysis. In fairness, I was stunned at the first attorney who presented for former President Trump. I couldn't figure out where he was going, spent 45 minutes going somewhere, but I don't think he helped with us better understanding where he was coming from on the constitutionality of this," Murkowski said.

Castor and Schoen, each of whom has a history of being involved in controversial legal matters. Previously, five of his members from the defense team had left abruptly as Trump wanted the attorneys to focus on his election fraud claims rather than the constitutionality of convicting a former president.

A source close to the first Trump impeachment team said the former President's current lawyer shouldn't be compared with the attorneys who represented him at his first trial.

"It is hard to compare to our team," the source said of Trump's first impeachment team, noting it featured the likes of Bill Clinton impeachment veteran Judge Ken Starr, Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, and former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. "Different level of experience."

Despite the criticism, Castor simply told reporters after the day's session: "I thought we had a good day, thank you."

Publish : 2021-02-10 15:55:00

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