Trump impeachment lawyer says would be 'idiotic,' 'insane' to rehash election fraud claims

(Reuters) - A lawyer for Donald Trump on Wednesday said it would be “idiotic” and “insane” to dispute the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election during his Senate impeachment trial, adding that the former U.S. president has not pressured him to make those arguments.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump holds a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, in Washington, U.S, January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Jim Bourg/File Photo

“Injecting that into a case that is already a winner would be idiotic,” said Bruce L. Castor Jr, a recent addition to Trump’s legal team, in an interview with Reuters.

“It would be insane to do that,” Castor said.

“Nobody has pressured me to make that defense,” Castor added, saying Trump was happy with a brief filed by Castor and his co-counsel David Schoen on Tuesday.

The two defense lawyers are preparing for trial before the U.S. Senate beginning Feb. 9. The chamber will consider an article of impeachment passed by the House of Representatives charging Trump with inciting the deadly Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol by his followers.

In their response to the charge on Tuesday, they argued that the Senate lacked authority to hold an impeachment trial for a president who has left office. Castor told Reuters that would be the primary defense argument.

Forty-five Senate Republicans backed a failed effort on Jan. 26 to halt Trump’s impeachment trial for that very reason, in a show of party unity that some cited as a clear sign he will not be convicted.

Democratic lawmakers said in a brief on Tuesday that Trump pointed a mob “like a loaded cannon” at Congress and should be barred from holding public office in the future.

Trump named Castor and Schoen as his lead counsel on Sunday after abruptly parting ways with a five-lawyer team he brought on to represent him.

A source familiar with the discussions said Trump had disagreed with his previous lead counsel, Butch Bowers, over strategy ahead of the trial. The president is still contending that he was the victim of mass election fraud in the Nov. 3 election won by President Joe Biden.

Castor said he did not plan to call defense witnesses unless the House Democrats prosecuting the trial call their own witnesses. He declined to say who Trump would call in that scenario.

Some congressional Republicans have said Trump should avoid rehashing his baseless theories about election fraud.

“I think it would be a disservice to the president’s own defense to get bogged down in things that really aren’t before the Senate,” Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, told reporters on Monday.

Castor is a former Pennsylvania district attorney known for his decision not to prosecute entertainer Bill Cosby in 2005 after a woman accused Cosby of sexual assault. In 2017, Castor sued Cosby’s accuser in the case for defamation, claiming she destroyed his political career in retaliation.

Reporting by Jan Wolfe, additional reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Scott Malone and Alistair Bell