Trump impeachment lawyer David Schoen detailed a series of mishaps involving poor internal communication and coordination heading into former President Trump’s second impeachment trial in an interview with Jewish Insider published Tuesday.
Schoen described how poor communication plagued Trump’s legal team from the very beginning when he was asked to join the former president’s defense team “three or four weeks ago.”
After having discussions with Trump days after he joined the team, Schoen recalled being thrown off by reports of Trump hiring South Carolina attorney Butch Bowers. Schoen assumed that meant Trump had moved on by reportedly hiring Bowers — until a Trump associate called Schoen.
According to Schoen, the unnamed Trump associate said that the former president still wanted Schoen to “quarterback the whole thing” as the lead counsel.
Although Schoen and Bowers began working in tandem, Bowers abruptly bowed out of Trump’s legal team over a weekend in late January while Schoen observed Shabbat. Schoen simply explained that “it wasn’t the right fit” between Bowers and Trump, denying reports of Bowers and the former president at odds over legal strategy.
Following Bowers’ departure, Bruce Castor and others from his firm joined Schoen in representing Trump. Schoen claimed that the sudden internal transitions left Trump’s legal team insufficient time to properly prepare, to the point where the lawyers had no choice but to finalize presentations mid-trial.
Schoen explained that it was unclear whether Castor got the memo that he was supposed to offer assistance within Trump’s legal team and not be the lead counselor.
“(Trump’s team) asked me if I would work with (Castor), if I would take the lead and so on, but then (Castor) would help me and he has a firm that can help and all that,” Schoen told Jewish Insider. “I’m not sure that message was communicated to him clearly enough, because he never seemed to quite understand that I was supposed to be the lead in the case.”
Castor, whose meandering arguments during the trial were widely panned even by Trump allies, still proceeded to lead the charge in defending the former president.
“He got into the case and started giving out parts on who’s going to do what,” Schoen told Jewish Insider, before characterizing Castor’s agenda as “kind of based around giving him and his partner (attorney Michael Van Der Veen) leading speaking roles.”
Schoen was then forced to handle the argument over the Senate’s jurisdiction to hold the trial now that Trump left office, with the expectation of his role largely ending after the first day of the trial.
Trump, however, demanded that Schoen speak again. The former president supposedly was confused over Castor taking over as his lead attorney.
“I just wrote up my own talk for jurisdiction, and that was going to be my little piece… but that wasn’t really coordinated with the president,” Schoen told Jewish Insider. “The President had this other idea that he wanted me to speak more. He said, ‘I’ve made you the lead person. Why is it that you’re only doing that one part?’”
Schoen lamented that Castor and his associates largely sidelined him when he tried to act as Trump’s lead counsel, but ultimately blamed himself for not being more assertive.
“I wasn’t assertive. I didn’t tell them — I sort of did, I thought, but anyway they weren’t hearing it that I was supposed to be the lead person — but it’s just not my personality,” Schoen told Jewish Insider. “They have a whole firm there. I’m just not going to say to another person I’m a better lawyer.”