Lead attorney for Trump impeachment trial leaves team
MANDEL NGAN

Washington: The attorney leading former US President Donald Trump's upcoming Senate impeachment trial has left the latter's legal team, according to a media report.

An informed source and two attorneys close to the team confirmed to the Politico news outlet on Saturday that Butch Bowers, a South Carolina lawyer, "was reportedly set to play a major role" in the trial which is set to begin on February 8.

The source told Politico that another laywer Deborah Barbier was also no longer with the team.

The source added that the exits were a "mutual decision" and new names will be announced soon.

Also on Saturday night, a CNN reports said that a three other lawyers, Josh Howard, Johnny Gasser and Greg Harris, have left the team as well. According to the CNN report, the exits were due to disagreements over the defence strategy.

"The team members wanted to focus on the legality of the impeachment, while Trump insisted on pushing narratives of election fraud," the report said.

On January 13, the House of Representatives impeached Trump for a second time following the January 6 riots at the Capitol in Washington D.C. which took place after he addressed thousands of his supporters outside the building during which called for "patriots" to take a stand against the 2020 election results.

The House has charged Trump with inciting an insurrection and threatening democracy.

Under the impeachment process, the Senate will hold a judicial-style trial of Trump with the senators acting as jurors.

It is unlikely once again that Trump will be convicted in the upper chamber as the Democrats would need 17 Republicans to vote in a 50-50 Senate.

Saturday's development comes after Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, confirmed earlier this month that he will not be a part of the impeachment trial.

In a statement to The Hill news website on January 18, Giuliani, also a former New York City Mayor, said: "Due to the fact that I may be a witness, the rules of legal ethics would prohibit me from representing the President as trial counsel in the impeachment trial."

Along with Trump, Giuliani had also addressed the supporters and called for "trial by combat".

Keep the impeachment short: Biden

Washington: US President Joe Biden urged his fellow members of the Democratic Party in the Senate to keep former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial in the upper chamber short and not to let it "derail the agenda".

Biden administration officials say the president will distance himself from Trump's trial as it begins in the second week of February. "He's going to let the Senate do what it needs to do," said one Biden ally close to the White House as quoted by The Hill and added, "We always knew this was going to happen. We always knew this would be the position we're in now with Republicans. And now he's going to respect the process and let it play out."

It is reported that the impeachment trial poses some risks to Biden, and some Democrats had warned it could ruin his early agenda.

"He's come to the White House with a strong unity message and the last thing he wants is for the impeachment trial to define the early days of his presidency," one ally said.

Citing sources, it was reported that Biden and his advisers have been in frequent touch with Democratic leaders in Congress, and some members of Biden's inner circle threw their support behind impeachment.

After the January 6 attack on the Capitol, Cedric Richmond, who resigned from Congress to become a senior Biden adviser, expressed immediate support for impeachment, according to a source familiar with the internal conversations on Biden's team.

But several prominent Democrats in both chambers voiced concern early in the process about a Senate impeachment trial delaying Biden's agenda. "We already know the outcome before it starts and that's frustrating to everybody," said a Senate Democratic aide after this week's vote on the motion sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul (Republican-Kentucky.).

The Hill further reported that House Majority Whip James Clyburn advocated for waiting after Biden's first 100 days in office before sending an article of impeachment to the Senate.

Across the Capitol, in the upper chamber, Senators Tim Kaine and Chris Murphy privately expressed concerns that confirming Biden's Cabinet nominees and moving a COVID-19 relief package should be the top priorities.

Murphy said, "my point privately was not necessarily that we shouldn't hold a trial but we needed a couple of weeks to get the Cabinet in place and to get COVID [relief] moving." Kaine said Friday he raised early concerns about "the likely outcome" of a trial.

"I just felt as outrageous as the behavior was and as much as accountability is needed, I just didn't see a way that Republicans would get to 17 votes to convict," he said.

In fact, earlier this week he told CNN he thought "it (the impeachment trial) has to happen." Immediately after the riot, Biden signaled the decision was for lawmakers.

The US Senate signalled on Tuesday that there are not nearly enough votes to convict ex-President Donald Trump in an impeachment trial when five Republican senators rejected an effort by Senator Rand Paul to declare the looming trial as unconstitutional.

The US Senate formally opened the second impeachment trial for former President Donald Trump on Tuesday with the swearing-in of Senate President Pro-Tempore Patrick Leahy to preside over the process and the swearing-in of the senators to serve as jurors.

On Monday, the House of Representatives delivered the article of impeachment against Trump, accusing him of inciting an insurrection at the US Capitol building on January 6 to stop Congress from verifying President Joe Biden's win in the 2020 election.

The impeachment trial arguments will begin on February 9.

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