David Schoen, the lead attorney representing former President Donald Trump in the impeachment trial, responded to criticism of his team’s performance on the first day of the proceedings. Several Republican senators indicated that they were “perplexed” by the “disorganized” and sometimes bizarre opening statements made by the team.
During an interview with USA Today, Schoen acknowledged criticism from individuals like Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), who referred to the performance as “unfocused.”
“I’m sorry he felt that way,” Schoen said in response to Cassidy’s comments. “I’ll have to do better next time.”
Most of the criticism from Republican lawmakers was not directed at Schoen, however. It was primarily aimed at Bruce Castor, the first member of the legal team to address the Senate after Democrats started their arguments with a video connecting Trump’s Jan. 6 speech to the assault on the U.S. Capitol building.
The Hill noted:
Castor did not spend much time defending Trump or detailing the case the defense intended to make. Instead, he meandered, talking about the fall of ancient governments, praising the House impeachment managers and the senators seeking to impeach Trump, and recounting anecdotes about getting lost in the halls of Congress.
“Anyone who listened to those arguments would recognize that the House managers were focused, relied upon and trusted upon the opinion of legal scholars,” Cassidy complained. “Anyone who listened to President Trump’s legal team saw they were unfocused, they attempted to avoid the issue and they talked about everything but the issue at hand.”
Schoen stated that his team would not make the same mistakes again. “I’m sure they will be very well prepared in the future and do a great job in the case,” he assured.
Cassidy was not the only one criticizing Trump’s legal team. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said, “I don’t think the lawyers did the most effective job.”
According to a report from The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman, former President Trump was “furious” over his team’s opening arguments. “Mr. Castor, the first to speak, delivered a rambling, almost somnambulant defense of the former president for nearly an hour. Mr. Trump, who often leaves the television on in the background even when he is holding meetings, was furious, people familiar with his reaction said,” she wrote.
If Haberman’s report is accurate, one cannot blame Trump for being “furious.” The Democrats’ entire argument is based on a falsehood that should be easy to disprove. At times, it appeared that Castor was rambling incoherently to avoid even discussing the issue. While it is not likely that the Senate will vote to convict Trump, his legal team must be better prepared to defend him to ensure that GOP lawmakers do not change their minds. Hopefully, Schoen is true to his word and his team will do better going forward. Otherwise, it is possible that the Democrats might just win this one.