Still scrambling

Huh. It turns out there are drawbacks to basing your defense on an obvious lie. What drawbacks are those? The lawyers who refuse to take your case.

With mere hours left before a deadline for Donald Trump to officially answer the impeachment charge against him, the former president was still scrambling to assemble a legal defense, announcing that he had hired two new lawyers after a five-person team abruptly quit their roles.

Trump has until noon on Tuesday to reply to a charge of incitement of insurrection, for encouraging the assault on the US Capitol on 6 January in which five people died. His trial in the Senate is scheduled to begin on 9 February.

Let’s pause for a second to remind ourselves that he got those five people killed, along with the two cops who committed suicide afterwards. The rest of us would feel pretty consumed with horror if we had gotten seven people killed by doing a criminal thing to further our own self-interest. I’m betting Trump hasn’t wasted a second on the thought.

The unveiling of Trump’s new legal pairing – one a Fox News commentator and former counsel to the sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, the other a former county prosecutor who opposed charging Bill Cosby with sexual assault – fueled concerns the provisional return to normalcy since Joe Biden’s inauguration is about to be upended.

I don’t think two worthless lawyers who work for Trump are going to be able to upend much. I’m a lot more worried about Greene and Boebert than about Trump’s mobster lawyers.

The trial could be particularly dangerous, legal scholars said, if Trump builds his case around his lie that the November election was stolen and Senate Republicans effectively endorse that lie, in unprecedented numbers, by voting to acquit.

Multiple reports suggested Trump jettisoned his previous legal team because they were unwilling to recite the election fraud lie. Trump’s new lawyers, David Schoen and Bruce Castor, did not indicate what defense they had planned.

Well they’ve barely had time to comb their hair, let alone plan a defense.

Schoen is an eager media presence whose past clients include Roger Stone, convicted for lying to Congress in the Russia investigation but pardoned by Trump. The attorney also told the Discovery channel Epstein had asked him to take over the defense of his case before the convicted sex trafficker killed himself in prison in August 2019.

“I don’t believe he took his own life,” Schoen said, demonstrating an ease with the conspiratorial thinking that has fed Trump’s election lies and taken over the Republican base.

In other words he’s an absurd hack. Who else would take Trump’s case?

It’s all for show anyway; the Republicans are determined to let him off.

“The ‘crisis’ over Trump’s legal team quitting assumes that the substance of the impeachment case will sway Senate Republicans,” the Princeton University historian Julian Zelizer tweeted. “Most already have their answer. Trump could offer no defense or he can go on the floor to read lines from the Joker movie – they would still vote to acquit.”

On the other hand it seems the lawyers have to be somewhat careful.

Any lawyer who repeats Trump’s fraud claim before Congress would risk legal sanction, analysts said, noting that in the midst of Trump’s attempts to get ballots thrown out, not even the former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani would make certain claims about election fraud before an actual judge.


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