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Trump lawyers exit after he pushed them to cite baseless voter fraud claims

Lawyers David Schoen and Bruce Castor will lead the legal team that will handle Trump's second impeachment trial in the Senate.
Former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial begins next week. Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images file

At least three attorneys have parted ways with former President Donald Trump after he asked them to focus on unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud as part of his defense strategy in his second impeachment trial, two sources familiar with the matter told NBC News.

The three lawyers are Butch Bowers, Deborah Barbier and Joshua Howard, the sources said.

Earlier, a source had said it had been a "mutual decision" to part ways before the trial starts in the Senate next Tuesday.

Two new attorneys — David Schoen and Bruce Castor Jr. — were named Sunday evening, just days before a pre-trial brief is due.

Trump wanted his original team to falsely argue that he had won the election and continue his baseless suggestions that the count was somehow “rigged,” per one person with knowledge of the discussions, but the attorneys were not comfortable with amplifying misinformation. Instead, they wanted to use a Constitutional argument.

Forty-five Republican senators voted last week in support of a measure declaring that impeaching a former president is unconstitutional.

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Another source familiar with the matter said that Trump wanted his lawyers to pursue a case that would detail fraud claims in places like Arizona, Wisconsin and Georgia, despite no evidence such widespread fraud exists.

Trump adviser Jason Miller said that the former president did not ask the lawyers to do so and that any suggestion otherwise was “fake news.”

A statement announcing the new legal team said that Schoen and Castor “agree that this impeachment is unconstitutional.”

Castor is the former Pennsylvania district attorney who declined to prosecute disgraced comedian and actor Bill Cosby in 2005 over an encounter with Andrea Constand the year before. Cosby was convicted of sexually assaulting Constand in 2018 after a different prosecutor pursued the case.

Schoen is a civil and criminal defense lawyer with offices in Alabama and New York.

In a statement, Trump's office said Schoen had already been preparing the case with other advisers.