Former President Donald Trump was irate over his impeachment defense lawyer Bruce Castor’s opening argument on the Senate floor Tuesday, according to multiple reports.
Castor, who is representing Trump alongside Atlanta-based attorney David Schoen, delivered a rambling and uninspired argument during the first day of the Senate impeachment trial, that included praise at one point for the House impeachment managers for a presentation that he said was “well done.”
Trump was particularly angered and surprised that Castor had freely praised House impeachment managers. On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the angriest, Trump “was an eight,” one person familiar with the ex-president’s reaction told The New York Times.
And while he was heartened that Schoen gave a more spirited performance, Trump ended the day frustrated and irate, people familiar with his reaction said.
One CNN source described Trump as close to screaming at Castor as he watched the lawyer’s dispirited performance from his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida.
The news of Trump’s fury comes after the former president struggled to retain a legal defense team. Unable to bring back any of the lawyers from the first impeachment trial, most of the attorneys Trump had initially hired abruptly parted ways with him days before the trial began.
Adding to an appearance of unpreparedness, Schoen and Castor who hurriedly came to Trump’s rescue, appeared to make a last minute switch to the order of their presentations, with Castor saying that the pair had “changed what we were going to do on account that we thought that the House managers’ presentation was well done.”
According to CNN, one adviser to Trump’s team remarked on the messy unfolding of the opening day arguments by asking, “What the hell is going on?”
Multiple reports suggest that Castor had always planned to try to reduce the temperature in the chamber following what they anticipated would be an emotional presentation from House impeachment managers.
One adviser told CNN that Trump’s defense had planned on “lowering the temperature following the Democrats’ emotionally charged opening, before dropping the hammer on the unconstitutional nature of this impeachment witch hunt.”
But the sudden switching of the two lawyers’ presentations appeared to undermine that claim.
In spite of the former president’s clear displeasure, Trump’s staff remained confident that he would still be acquitted and that the messy first day would not change the outcome of the trial, even though a number of Senate Republicans were disheartened by the disorganization of Trump’s defense.
Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy (LA), who was the only senator to vote differently on the constitutionality of the trial than he had during a procedural vote last month, told reporters that while the House managers were “focused” and “made a compelling argument,” Trump’s team was “disorganized.”
“They did everything they could but to talk about the question at hand, and when they talked about it they kind of glided over, almost as if they were embarrassed of their arguments,” Cassidy said.