The decision by Bowers, Barbier, and Howard to not join the team raised immediate questions, both about what compelled them to part ways and who actually will play the role of lawyer to Trump when the impeachment trial starts in early February.
Trump has had difficulty finding legal help for his second impeachment, with some of the lawyers who worked on his first trial saying they wouldn’t do the same this go around.
Bowers’ hiring was first announced by Trump ally and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham. A longtime Republican attorney, Bowers represented former South Carolina Govs. Mark Sanford and Nikki Haley, and had experience in election law.
News outlets in South Carolina also named trial attorneys Greg Harris and Johnny Gasser as part of Trump’s impeachment team, although aides to Trump never officially confirmed who would be representing the former president.
Trump’s first legal filing in the impeachment trial is due this coming Tuesday.
In a statement, Trump spokesperson Jason Miller did not address the uncertainty around the legal team but, rather, railed against impeachment itself, noting that the vast majority of Senate Republicans voted that convicting a former president is an unconstitutional act — a conclusion with which legal scholars disagree.
“The Democrats’ efforts to impeach a president who has already left office is totally unconstitutional and so bad for our country,” said Miller. “In fact, 45 Senators have already voted that it is unconstitutional. We have done much work, but have not made a final decision on our legal team, which will be made shortly.”
Trump had been impeached by the House for helping incite the insurrection on the Capitol on Jan. 6. It would take two-thirds of the Senate to convict him, however, a threshold that seems unlikely to be hit.
“I’m really shocked by this,” said Dick Harpootlian, a prominent South Carolina lawyer and longtime Democratic official in the state who has argued several cases against Bowers and knows him well. “These are honorable ethical lawyers I’ve dealt with for many many years.”
“To expect something to go without controversy and chaos would be too much to expect from this guy,” Harpootlian said of Trump.