Trump impeachment protection: 5 attorneys depart workforce lower than two weeks earlier than trial

Trump impeachment defense: Five attorneys leave team less than two weeks before trial

It was a dramatic development in the second impeachment trial for Trump, who struggled to find lawyers willing to take his case. And now that legal information is due next week and a trial is not due to begin until days later, Trump is sticking to his election fraud charade and suddenly finds himself without legal representation.

Butch Bowers and Deborah Barbier, who were expected to be two of the chief attorneys, are no longer on the team. A source familiar with the changes said it was a mutual decision for both of them to leave the legal team. As a senior 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, also from South Carolina, are no longer involved in the case either.

No other lawyer has announced that they will be working on Trump’s impeachment defense.

A person familiar with the exits told CNN that Trump wanted lawyers to argue that there was mass electoral fraud and that the election was stolen from him rather than on the legality of convicting a president after he left office to concentrate. Trump was not receptive to discussions about how to proceed in this regard.

The attorneys had not yet been paid upfront fees and no letters of intent were ever signed.

CNN has asked attorneys to comment.

“The Democrats’ efforts to indict a president who has already resigned are utterly unconstitutional and so bad for our country. In fact, 45 senators have already voted for it to be unconstitutional. We have done a lot of work, but no final decision met on our legal team, which will be created shortly, “former Trump campaign advisor Jason Miller told CNN.

Bowers, a respected lawyer from Columbia, South Carolina, once served in the Justice Department under President George W. Bush.

Barbier, a South Carolina litigation attorney, worked closely on several high profile cases and was a former federal attorney in the state for 15 years before starting her own boutique criminal defense firm.

Gasser and Harris are both former federal attorneys. Gasser was a US interim attorney for South Carolina early in his career. Both have worked closely with Barbier on the defense side.

Howard served as an independent legal advisor in the investigation of Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky during the Clinton presidency and spent a decade in the Justice Department working on the endorsements of the Supreme Court Justice John Roberts and Judge Samuel Alito. Howard was once chairman of the North Carolina State Board of Elections and left office in early 2016.

This story has been updated to include reports of the additional departures from Trump’s team.

CNN’s Kara Scannell and Manu Raju contributed to this report.