Skip to main content

Trump Makes ‘Mutual’ Decision to Part Ways with Impeachment Attorneys 10 Days Before Senate Trial: Reports


A group of five defense attorneys is no longer representing ex-president Donald Trump on articles of impeachment which accuse him of inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol during his waning days in office, CNN and The New York Times reported late Saturday.  Two of the lawyers, Butch Bowers and Deborah Barbier, “were expected to be two of the lead attorneys” for Trump’s second impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate, Kaitlan Collins tweeted.

A subsequent report indicated that the decision to part ways was “mutual” between Trump and the first two attorneys who were reported to have left the 45th president’s legal team.

Shortly thereafter, Collins tweeted that a third attorney, Josh Howard, had also exited the Trump team. The subsequent tweet indicated that a tactical disagreement may have been behind the move. Trump, per Collins, “wanted the attorneys to argue there was mass election fraud and it was stolen from him rather than focus on proposed arguments about constitutionality.”

CNN also updated its original report to state that attorneys Johnny Gasser and Greg Harris also left the Trump impeachment team.

Maggie Haberman of The New York Times corroborated several key elements of the CNN report. She noted that Barbier and Bowers were “hired with fanfare” — but that Bowers was “noticeably muted for someone leading a Trump defense, choosing not to talk to most reporters.”

A “person familiar with the situation said there was no chemistry between Bowers and Trump,” Haberman added.

She later noted it was “unclear” who is on Trump’s team at this point.

Indeed, Trump adviser Jason Miller touted Bowers’ arrival in a Jan. 21 tweet which, as they say, did not age well at all:

Miller tweeted Saturday that he considered it “unconstitutional” for the Senate to “impeach a pres[ident] who has already left office” and that such a move would be “bad for our country.”

A subsequent New York Times report confirmed that Trump and his departed attorneys had “differences of opinion” regarding strategy, but it downplayed whether the specific disagreement was over whether or not Trump should his claim that the election was stolen.

“Mr. Trump has insisted that the case is ‘simple’ and has told advisers he could argue it himself and save the money on lawyers,” the Times said.  (The newspaper immediately added that Trump’s aides did not believe the ex-president was “seriously contemplating” representing himself.)

Haberman tweeted that Steve Bannon was telling Trump to at least partially represent himself.

Trump’s second impeachment is scheduled to begin on Feb. 9.  A group of Republican Senators voted to signify that they also consider it unconstitutional to try a president on articles of impeachment who has already left office.  Many, though not all, legal scholars see things differently, but Miller’s tweet suggests that Trump may predictably raise the issue as a defense.  The U.S. Constitution states that removal from office is but one punishment the senate can mete out; the other is a “disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States.” It’s an open debate whether that less than clear Constitutional language would preclude Trump from running for office again.

This is a developing story.  It has been updated since its initial publication. 

[image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow Law&Crime:

Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now deputy editor-in-chief for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only. You should not rely on it for legal advice. Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.