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With just over a week before his second impeachment trial begins, former President Trump’s legal defense team is in flux after at least two key departures.
Two of his lead impeachment lawyers, Butch Bowers and Deborah Barbier, and Trump parted ways, a source familiar with the matter told NPR. The South Carolina-based lawyers’ departure was a “mutual decision,” the person said, but no explanation was given.
The Associated Press reports that two former federal prosecutors from South Carolina, Greg Harris and Johnny Gasser, have also left the team. CNN says North Carolina lawyer Josh Howard is out too, meaning all five members of Trump’s legal team have left. NPR has not independently confirmed these reports.
“We have done much work, but have not made a final decision on our legal team, which will be made shortly,” Trump adviser Jason Miller said on Saturday night, just nine days after tweeting that Butch Bowers joined the team. At that time, Miller said Bowers, a pick recommended by Sen. Lindsay Graham, “will do an excellent job defending President Trump.”
Defense team or no, a Trump impeachment conviction is unlikely, considering that last week, an overwhelming majority of Republican senators voted to dismiss his trial altogether.
The trial, over his role in the Capitol attack earlier this month, is set for Feb. 9.
The former president has until this Tuesday, Feb. 2, to respond to the article of impeachment passed by the House charging him with “incitement of insurrection.” House impeachment managers have the same deadline to file a pre-trial brief, with the former president’s pre-trial brief due a day before the trial.
NPR’s Domenico Montanaro contributed to this report.