Attorneys including Butch Bowers have departed the legal team handling Donald Trump’s impeachment defense, barely a week before the former president’s Senate trial is set to begin.
The departures of Bowers, expected to have been Trump’s lead attorney, Deborah Barbier and three others were were mutually agreed upon, CNN reported late Saturday.
Democrats in the House, joined by 10 Republicans, this month voted to impeach Trump for a second time on the charge of “incitement of insurrection” for his involvement in the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by a violent, pro-Trump mob.
Bowers and the other attorneys reportedly left because of a disagreement over strategy, as Trump pressed them to pursue his unsupported claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen — claims that were rejected in dozens of court cases since November.
Trump’s defense team had planned to challenge the constitutionality of convicting a former president, a point many Republican lawmakers have echoed.
The Senate trial is due to start Feb. 9.
Jason Miller, an adviser to Trump, told the New York Times late Saturday that the former president and his aides hadn’t made a final decision on the legal team.
Bowers. a prominent South Carolina attorney, had been recommended to Trump by GOP Senator Lindsey Graham, also of South Carolina.
He’s best known for helping South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford in 2009 when the Republican-led legislature considered impeachment after he admitted lying to aides about hiking the Appalachian Trail when he was in Argentina with his mistress.
Barbier is a former federal prosecutor-turned-defense attorney who specializes in white-collar crime. Three other lawyers also departed, CNN reported.