With only a week or so to go before his impeachment trial began in the Senate, Donald Trump unceremoniously parted ways with his legal team for reasons that have not yet entirely been specified. But no matter what the reason actually was, it seems to have been a mistake. Whatever his former lawyers had planned, it had to be better than the shoddy, haphazard show we got on Tuesday from attorney Bruce Castor. If acquittal is all but a foregone conclusion in this trial, Castor sure seemed to do as much as he could to make it a close call.
Apparently unprepared for the (readily telegraphed) 13-minute video that the Democrats showed to the Senate, intersplicing Trump’s words with raw footage from the January 6th riot, Castor started off his argument by giving the Dem impeachment managers credit.
“We changed what we were going to do on account that we thought the House impeachment managers’ presentation was well done and I wanted you to know that we have responses to those things,” he said.
Uh, this isn’t something a defense lawyer will usually prefer to say out loud.
According to several reports, Trump was extremely unhappy with Castor’s presentation and was said to be irate to the point of “nearly screaming” while watching the trial from his home in Palm Beach, FL. We can’t blame him for being upset. As lawyer Alan Dershowitz (who helped lead Trump’s defense in the first impeachment trial) put it, Castor’s arguments were…not great.
“There is no argument,” Dershowitz said Tuesday. “I have no idea what he is doing.”
From what we could gather, Castor was mostly interested in letting the Senate know that he’s buddies with Pat Toomey, that he doesn’t understand why Sen. Ben Sasse was censured for opposing his client, that the Senate should embrace the values of friendship, and that voters were “smart enough” to remove Trump from office.
This, as opposed to what should have been his primary concern: Laying out a skillful, intelligent argument against the charges that Trump is facing.
It might have been too much to ask that Castor’s argument be so effective that it could persuade Democrats to vote against moving forward with the trial, but did it have to be so bad that he actually lost the vote of Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA)? Cassidy voted last week (after a much more stirring presentation from his colleague, Sen. Rand Paul) that the trial was unconstitutional. Apparently, Castor managed to convince him otherwise!
“If anyone disagrees with my vote and would like an explanation I ask them to listen to the arguments presented by the House Managers and former Pres. Trump’s lawyers. The House managers had much stronger constitutional arguments. The president’s team did not,” Cassidy said after the day’s proceedings.
Donald Trump is a great man and he was a great president. But by God does he have lousy taste in lawyers!