Here’s How Donald Trump Is Gearing Up For His Second Impeachment Trial

Nearly a month following the Capitol Hill riots on Jan. 6, 2021, in which right-wing insurgents — a number of whom touted Confederate flags and white supremacist symbols — stormed the Capitol Building following a rally held by then-President Donald Trump at a nearby location, the ex-commander-in-chief is gearing up for the second phase of his impeachment trial. Now, Trump must prepare for hearings in the Senate after the House voted in favor of impeachment of Jan. 13, 2021, but this time, it will be with an entirely new legal team — one without Trump’s one-time personal attorney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. 

As media outlets like NPR reported, members of Trump’s public relations team announced the names of the two new attorneys on Feb. 1, 2021, both of whom who will lead Trump’s defense team when the trial goes to the Senate on Feb. 9, 2021. Notably, both attorneys are experienced criminal defense lawyers, Bruce Castor, Jr. and David Schoen. The announcement was made following the dismissal of five lawyers who made up the entirety of Trump’s legal team for his previous impeachment phase in the House, where he was officially impeached for the second time throughout his first (and possibly) only presidential term, making him the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice. 

But why, indeed, did Trump decide on this legal shake-up so late in the game? And why did he pick Schoen and Castor to represent him? 

Donald Trump changed his legal team two weeks prior to the trial's start date

As NPR reported, Donald Trump’s decision to have Bruce Castor, Jr. and David Schoen represent him in his upcoming Senate impeachment hearing might simply have to do with one common factor: that they both believe the move to impeach the ex-president is diametrically opposed to the tenets of American democracy. As Trump’s team noted in their statement announcing the new defense line-up, “Schoen has already been working with the 45th President and other advisors to prepare for the upcoming trial, and both Schoen and Castor agree that this impeachment is unconstitutional — a fact 45 Senators voted in agreement with last week.”

In a separate statement Castor made with regards to the legal switch-up, per NPR, the lawyer “[considers] it a privilege to represent the 45th President,” adding that “the strength of our Constitution is about to be tested like never before in our history…it will triumph over partisanship yet again, and always.” The partisanship that Castor seemingly referred to was the most recent vote in the House, which impeached Trump with 232 representatives voting in favor of the measure and 197 voting against. Out of those who voted in favor, 222 were Democrats and 10 were Republicans; out of the 197 who voted against impeaching Trump, all were members of the GOP, per The New York Times.

Donald Trump's new attorneys are newbies when it comes to their upcoming trial

While both David Schoen and Bruce Castor, Jr. might readily believe in their defense — that impeaching Donald Trump would be an unconstitutional act — it seems neither have previously been involved in a trial of this scope. Previously, as Salon noted, Castor made headlines for refusing to prosecute Bill Cosby in court when Castor served as a Pennsylvania district attorney after the actor and comedian was accused, and subsequently convicted of, sexually assaulting more than 50 women over the course of decades after becoming famous. As for Schoen, the criminal defense lawyer previously represented Roger Stone, who established himself as a member of Trump’s coterie during the 2016 campaign. Trump later pardoned Stone in December 2020 after Stone was found guilty of witness tampering, making false statements to Congress, and obstructing an official proceeding, per CNN, during Trump’s first presidential bid.

News of Schoen and Castor replacing the five attorneys who were previously representing Trump in his second impeachment trial is also notable because of a glaring omission: that of Trump’s presumably former personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. The reason for Giuliani’s absence, it seems, might just boil down to the impetus behind Trump’s post-presidential ousting in the first place.

Donald Trump's new legal team might have been chosen for optics

Part of Donald Trump’s reasoning behind replacing his legal team for his upcoming Senate impeachment trial on Feb. 9, 2021 might simply come down to optics, less so due to choosing David Schoen and Bruce Castor, Jr. specifically and more so due to leaving longtime Trump loyalist Rudy Giuliani off the roster. One major factor behind this decision could seemingly be related to the basis of Trump’s second impeachment — the Jan. 6 riots on Capitol Hill which, per the article of impeachment, were caused by Trump himself, making him guilty of “incitement of insurrection,” per NPR — and that Giuliani was present at the Trump event that allegedly set the gears in motion. 

Giuliani, who is currently facing a $1.2 billion lawsuit from a voting machine manufacturer for (baselessly) accusing them of participating in widespread voter fraud — an unsupported claim which Trump also touted to event attendees on Jan. 6, 2021 — also participated in the Trump rally held hours before the insurrection at the Capitol. As Salon noted, Giuliani purportedly told event goers that there should be a “trial by combat” over the November 2020 election results, which resulted in Trump’s loss to President Joe Biden. Like Trump, Giuliani feasibly participated in the same activity which Trump is currently facing a Senate conviction over, making him somewhat unfit to represent Trump himself.

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