David Schoen and Bruce Castor: Who are Donald Trump’s defense team?

Former president introduces new lawyers after previous set of attorneys flee his side just one week before trial

Chris Riotta
New York
Tuesday 09 February 2021 20:44 GMT
Related: Trump impeachment lawyer calls trial 'slap in the face'

Donald Trump has tasked a former district attorney most known for declining to prosecute Bill Cosby — then suing one of his accusers — and a lawyer who has boasted about representing “all sorts of reputed mobster figures” to lead his defence in the upcoming Senate impeachment trial.

The two controversial additions to the former president’s impeachment team were reported during the weekend after five lawyers parted ways with Mr Trump over apparent disagreements about the trial strategy.

According to several reports, the set of previous lawyers wanted to argue against the constitutionality of conducting the trial after the former president had already left office, while Mr Trump wanted them to promote his false claims of a rigged election. There has been no evidence of widespread fraud found in the 2020 vote.

The former president heralded Bruce L Castor Jr as a “highly respected trial lawyer” in a statement announcing the Pennsylvania attorney’s addition to his team.

Mr Castor has not been an active member of the president’s inner circle over the years, but was introduced to Mr Trump through his cousin, a former Republican counsel for the House Oversight Committee during his first impeachment hearings in 2019.

Read more: Follow live Trump impeachment updates

The former Montgomery County district attorney was known for declining to prosecute Mr Cosby in 2005 after the comedian was accused of sexual assault by Andrea Constand, a decision that has followed him over the years as he continued to seek public office.

Mr Castor then sued Ms Constrand for defamation and claimed she had tarnished his political career. That case was later dismissed.

Mr Trump also announced the appointment of David Schoen, a Georgia attorney who has claimed to have represented the “alleged head of Russian mafia” and other prominent figures, to his defence team.

In an interview with the Atlanta Jewish Times last year, the Atlanta-based attorney said: “I represented all sorts of reputed mobster figures: alleged head of Russian mafia in this country, Israeli mafia and two Italian bosses, as well a guy the government claimed was the biggest mafioso in the world.”

Read more: Follow the impeachment trial LIVE

The lawyer has also insisted the late paedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein did not kill himself while in federal custody and awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges, despite the New York coroner who examined Epstein’s body disputing his claims and confirming suicide as the cause of death.

In his first interview since being appointed to the president’s team, Mr Schoen described the second impeachment trial against Mr Trump as “unconstitutional.”

“It [trial] is tearing the country apart at a time when we don't need anything like that," the attorney told Fox News’ Sean Hannity, calling the trial the “most ill-advised legislative action” he’s witnessed.

Discussing calls by some Democratic lawmakers to convict the former president for his conduct during the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol on 6 January and bar him from running for elected office, Mr Schoen added: “Can you imagine the slap in the face that is to the 75 million or more voters who voted for Donald Trump?”

The Senate impeachment trial is scheduled to begin next week, with House impeachment managers laying out their case against Mr Trump in a pre-trial brief filed on Tuesday that argued he was “singularly responsible” for fomenting the deadly riots at the Capitol. 

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