Allies of the outgoing president have been canvassing Washington’s legal landscape looking for representation but so far are coming up short. Lawyers who defended him in the previous impeachment trial, including
Other lawyers who have defended Trump at times, including former Florida attorney general
More broadly, a number of prominent law firms have refused to engage in any legal representation involving the president’s actions following the Nov. 3 election.
“I’m not terribly surprised that top tier conservative attorneys who a Republican president might normally turn to would not be interested in jumping on this particular grenade,” said Keith Whittington, a politics professor at Princeton University. “Those who might have been sympathetic to defending the president in other contexts such as his first impeachment don’t necessarily want to defend what he’s done here -- both because they aren’t easy to defend and they’ll tarnish people’s professional reputation down the road.”
It’s unclear when the Senate will hold a trial following the House vote Wednesday to impeach Trump. House Speaker
Trump’s actions have caused significant fissures within the GOP with 10 House Republicans joining with Democrats in supporting the president’s impeachment. Other prominent Republicans have also spoken out, including
With less than a week before Trump exits the presidency, there’s little incentive for lawyers to take on an unpopular client accused of encouraging his supporters to maraud through the Capitol.
The defense team for Trump’s first impeachment trial in January 2020 included several notable lawyers, including Bondi and former independent counsels
“The case will not be able to come to the Senate until after President Trump leaves office and then the Senate has no jurisdiction to try the case,” he said in an interview Monday.
There is talk among Republicans in Congress that Jordan and Representative
“I think it’s reflective of where Trump’s own status is these days in which he has relatively little to offer and people don’t want to be associated with him generally,” Whittington said. “The fact is he’s not going to get the A team.”
Another reason for good lawyers remaining on the sidelines is the pressure being applied to law firms by interest groups such as the Lincoln Project, said
“The harassment and doxing of lawyers has been unprecedented,” Turley said. “What’s most concerning is that groups like the Lincoln Project have been funded heavily by lawyers who have supported the targeting of bar members for representing the president. It will be difficult for the president to assemble the legal team because of that intimidating environment.”
Trump has also made it harder for himself by suggesting
Who pays Trump’s legal bills could also be an issue. It’s unlikely the White House would since Trump would no longer be president, Turley said. Trump could seek reimbursement from the government, arguing that impeachment is an action against him in his official capacity, he said. “Congress would have to decide what to do about an anomaly of its own creation,” Turley said. “We are well into the land of the unknowns.”
Being the first of its kind, the impeachment case against Trump in other circumstances would be the sort of case constitutional law experts would be fighting each other to take up.
For one, Trump could challenge the fact that the House didn’t hold a hearing where the language and implications of the article of impeachment was deliberated before lawmakers lodged their votes. Then there’s the meaty question of whether the Senate has the authority to conduct the trial of a former president. Supreme Court Chief Justice
“This would be considered a strong defense case,” Turley said. He said the issue of him joining a Trump team “has been raised” though he declined to talk about it further saying “my role has been as a noncombatant and that’s how I’d prefer it to stay.”
(Updates with details on payment for lawyers in fourth to last paragraph. An earlier version of this story contained the wrong date for the U.S. election.)
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