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Meet the two seasoned staff prosecutors now in impeachment spotlight

The fast-moving impeachment inquiry is catapulting the majority and minority staff counsels into the national spotlight.
Image: Traders work the floor at the New York Stock Exchange as the impeachment hearing is televised on Nov. 13, 2019.
Traders work the floor at the New York Stock Exchange as the impeachment hearing is televised on Nov. 13, 2019.Richard Drew / AP

The fast-moving impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump's efforts to get Ukraine to investigate his political rivals is not only putting the partisanship on the House Intelligence Committee on full display, it's also catapulting the lead lawyers for both parties into the national spotlight.

Daniel Goldman is the Democrats' lead counsel and Steve Castor represents the Republicans. Both lawyers have extensive experience in Washington and in the courtroom and led the questioning of the closed-door depositions of witnesses in the inquiry. Both will have 45 minutes to grill witnesses on behalf of their respective sides as the inquiry moves forward.

Daniel Goldman

Daniel Goldman questions Bill Taylor during an impeachment hearing on Nov. 13, 2019.Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Goldman is a former prosecutor for the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York from 2007 to 2017, where he served as the deputy chief of the organized crime unit. This past March, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, tapped him to be the committee's senior adviser and director of investigations.

Goldman cut his teeth prosecuting mobsters, such as the Genovese crime family, and Russian organized crime, as well as infamous sports gambler Billy Walters. Goldman was also previously a legal analyst for MSNBC and a fellow at New York University's Brennan Center for Justice.

He received his undergraduate degree from Yale University and his law degree from Stanford University. He also worked as an Olympics researcher for NBC.

Goldman's previous Southern District colleagues have called him "unflappable," NPR reported. Other former coworkers have called him someone "who knows how to get right to the point," according to The Associated Press.

During closed-door depositions, his questioning was seen by observers as thorough and sometimes sympathetic, particularly when former Amb. Marie Yovanovitch became flustered during her private questioning.

"Ambassador Yovanovitch, we understand this is a difficult and emotional topic, and we thank you for your honest recollection and answers," he told her.

During the first public impeachment hearing, Schiff allowed Goldman to ask the majority of the questions, and he used his time to drill down into the details of the testimony of the witnesses.

"Have you ever seen another example of foreign aid conditioned on the personal or political interests of the president of the United States?" Goldman asked Bill Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

"No, Mr. Goldman, I have not," Taylor replied.

Steve Castor

Minority counsel Steve Castor speaks at an impeachment hearing with the House Intelligence Committee on Nov. 13, 2019.Drew Angerer / Getty Images

The man doing the questioning for the GOP minority is Steve Castor, the House Intelligence Committee counsel for Republicans.

He was brought over to the Intelligence Committee from the Oversight Committee by Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, a new addition to the panel himself.

Castor has served as counsel for Oversight for 14 years and helped question witnesses during its probes of the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi and into allegations the IRS was focusing on political targets during the Obama administration.

He earned his law degree from George Washington University and previously worked in commercial litigation in Philadelphia and Washington, according to a biography on the Federalist Society website. Castor is listed as a contributor to the conservative group.

Transcripts from the closed-door depositions in the impeachment inquiry to date show Castor repeatedly trying to get witnesses to give identifying information about the whistleblower who raised a red flag about President Donald Trump’s July 25 phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart. That has led to some tense exchanges, including during the testimony from Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on National Security Council.

At one point, Castor asked Vindman to whom he had expressed his concerns about the July 25 call, a question Vindman’s lawyer objected to, believing it was an effort to get his client to name the whistleblower.

"If you want to keep going down this road, we're going to just keep objecting, OK?" Vindman's lawyer said.

"There's a little bit of a disconnect, because in your statement you say you don't know who the whistleblower is," Castor replied.