New Trump Impeachment Lawyers Unlikely to Push Vote Fraud Claims
(Bloomberg) -- The two lawyers Donald Trump hired at the last minute to defend him at his Feb. 9 Senate impeachment trial are no strangers to controversial cases but are generally regarded as straight-shooters who won’t push the former president’s wild election-fraud claims.
David Schoen and Bruce Castor came on board Sunday after a previous legal team headed by South Carolina lawyer Butch Bowers quit after barely a week, reportedly over Trump’s insistence that they base his impeachment defense on arguments that the 2020 election was stolen.
But Schoen told the Washington Post on Sunday he would not make fraud arguments, and a former colleague said he couldn’t see Castor touching Trump’s “preposterous” claims either.
“He’s smart and he knows it’s bull,” said David Keightly, who worked with Castor in the district attorney’s office of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.
Though Schoen has disavowed claiming the election was stolen, he’s no stranger to politically charged arguments. It’s likely Trump turned to the Alabama solo practitioner based on his work last year on behalf of the former president’s longtime ally Roger Stone.
Representing Stone in his appeal of his November 2019 conviction for witness tampering and lying to Congress during the probe into Russian election interference, Schoen quickly adopted Trump’s claim that the case was part of a massive “witch hunt” perpetrated by corrupt prosecutors.
It’s the kind of case Trump may want to make against the House majority’s charge that he incited the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection that left five people dead. Schoen never found out if his argument for Stone was persuasive though -- Trump commuted his ally’s 40-month sentence in July and then granted him a full pardon in December.
Schoen didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment. Seth Ginsberg, Stone’s other lawyer on the appeal case, praised Schoen in an email Monday, saying, “David is an intelligent, hardworking lawyer who I am sure will provide solid representation to his client.”
Stone likewise praised his former lawyer. “David Schoen is one of the most brilliant attorneys I have ever met because he understands the dynamics of both the law and politics and how they interact,” the political operative said.
On his website, Schoen says he is known for using “creative, novel legal theories not previously recognized” to score wins in court over more than three decades, in cases ranging from racketeering and international organized crime to securities violations and money laundering. He has previously defended clients in criminal cases including murder and rape.
A longtime prosecutor specializing in murder cases, Castor, 59, is perhaps best-known now for his role in a sexual assault case. In 2005, when he served as district attorney for suburban Montgomery County, just outside Philadelphia, Castor declined to prosecute Bill Cosby after Temple University employee Andrea Constand came forward with allegations that the comedian had drugged and assaulted her at his mansion. Castor said the evidence was “insufficient.”
The decision likely cost him when he tried to reclaim the district attorney job in 2015 after a stint as county commissioner. After Cosby was charged with assault, Castor was forced into the uncomfortable position of witness for the defense. He testified that he’d struck a secret non-prosecution agreement with Cosby and that he thought Constand’s claims wouldn’t withstand scrutiny at trial. Cosby was convicted on three counts of assault and sentenced to three to 10 years in prison.
Though a Republican, Castor in 2016 became a top deputy to then Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, a Democrat. He then served briefly as acting state attorney general when Kane was forced to resign after being convicted of perjury. Castor, who did not respond to a request for comment, now works in private practice for a law firm in Philadelphia.
“I don’t think Bruce is an ideologue,” said Keightly. “I think he’s a good lawyer and he’ll do a good job for Trump.”
Castor’s home turf of Montgomery County and other Philadelphia suburbs were the focus of a number of Trump campaign lawsuits aimed at overturning the state’s election results. Such areas, which strongly favored Democrats, were largely responsible for delivering Pennsylvania to President Joe Biden.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.