There was a pretty astounding report by CNN early this morning depicting the, and I am being kind here, disarray in Trump’s impeachment defense. The gist is this:
Butch Bowers and Deborah Barbier, who were expected to be two of the lead attorneys, are no longer on the team. A source familiar with the changes said it was a mutual decision for both to leave the legal team. As the lead attorney, Bowers assembled the team.
Josh Howard, a North Carolina attorney who was recently added to the team, has also left, according to another source familiar with the changes. Johnny Gasser and Greg Harris, from South Carolina, are no longer involved with the case, either.
No other attorneys have announced they are working on Trump’s impeachment defense.
A person familiar with the departures told CNN that Trump wanted the attorneys to argue there was mass election fraud and that the election was stolen from him rather than focus on the legality of convicting a president after he’s left office. Trump was not receptive to the discussions about how they should proceed in that regard.
That sounds ominous!
But here is the part that even more stuck out to me:
“As the lead attorney, Bowers assembled the team.”
and, most notably,
“The attorneys had not yet been paid any advance fees and a letter of intent was never signed.”
Lol, for the uninitiated, that means Trump never paid a dime as to a retainer, and never signed a fee agreement. That not only is inappropriate, in most jurisdictions it is, in and of itself, unethical. Even when the lawyer is agreeing to do work pro bono, there is a retainer agreement. Always, because real lawyers don’t blithely hang their asses out on the line without specified parameters. That is just how it is.
As I said on Twitter:
At this point, I kind of think this is likely right. Trump is not going to substantively defend impeachment. Just treat it as a "hoax" and have Graham, Cruz and McConnell et. al do his dirty work. And maybe he can't even afford to pay real lawyers. https://t.co/aqyGPqQROJ
— bmaz (@bmaz) January 31, 2021
A rather large discussion ensued. Go look if you so desire, but I will stand by that for now. No, I do not really know, but it almost makes sense.
Trump is not cash rich. Expending collected campaign funds to perpetrate a fraudulent defense might be a dicey proposition. And no competent attorneys are lining up to pitch that. Trump may literally be down to Rudy and Jenna Ellis. Dershowitz and Jon Turley are squirrely as shit, but even they may not be that stupid.
So, where art thou go Donald?