Butch Bowers is used to defending public officers in ethics instances. But he is by no means confronted something fairly like this.
It’s as much as Bowers, a South Carolina elections and ethics lawyer, to rise and defend Donald Trump because the Senate quickly plunges into an impeachment trial not like some other, centered on accusations that the previous president incited the mob that rampaged by way of the US Capitol on Jan. 6. For Trump, the primary president twice impeached, the stakes are huge: If convicted, he may very well be barred from holding public workplace once more, ending any hopes of mounting one other White House bid in 2024.
Trump turned to Bowers, a well-known determine in Republican authorized circles, after different authorized allies handed on the case. That’s a notable departure from his first impeachment trial in 2020, when he had a steady of distinguished attorneys — together with Alan Dershowitz, Jay Sekulow, who represented him within the Russia investigation, and Kenneth Starr — standing in his nook.
The first impeachment trial turned on prices that Trump improperly solicited Ukraine’s assist for his reelection marketing campaign. The Senate acquitted him of these prices. The new trial might hinge on broader problems with legislation, together with “whether the Constitution even allows a post-impeachment action in the Senate,” mentioned Sekulow, who isn’t taking part in Trump’s authorized protection.
Sekulow mentioned he didn’t anticipate Bowers, who has years of expertise representing elected officers and political candidates — together with former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford towards a failed impeachment effort that morphed into an ethics probe — to be hindered by having by no means defended a present or former president in a Senate trial.
“He’s an excellent lawyer with a tremendous reputation who understands the law and politics,” Sekulow mentioned Friday.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham really useful Bowers to Trump and instructed Fox News he sees him because the “anchor tenant” of Trump’s crew. Trump adviser Jason Miller, who additionally ran Sanford’s gubernatorial and congressional campaigns, mentioned Bowers “will do an excellent job defending President Trump.”
Bowers didn’t reply to a message looking for remark.
His technique for Trump’s protection is unclear, although questioning the validity of the trial is a transparent possibility. Many Republicans within the Senate — the jurors he’ll want to steer — have mentioned they harbor doubts about whether or not an impeachment trial for an ex-official is constitutional, though it has occurred earlier than.
The 9 House managers prosecuting the case, in the meantime, will nearly definitely give attention to linking Trump’s remarks to supporters at a rally earlier than the riot — together with encouraging them to “fight like hell” — to the chaos that quickly adopted. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will transmit the article of impeachment to the Senate on Monday, triggering the primary section of the trial.
Opening arguments will start the week of Feb. 8. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced the schedule Friday night after reaching an settlement with Republicans, who had pushed to delay the trial to offer Trump an opportunity to arrange his authorized crew and put together a protection.
Though maybe nothing compares to the authorized and political swirl of a Senate impeachment trial, Bowers does have expertise each in Washington and in steering elected leaders by way of the fray.
He has served as counsel to Sanford and one other former governor, Nikki Haley, guiding her by way of an investigation into whether or not she had violated state ethics legislation.
An ethics panel finally cleared Haley. Rob Godfrey, a longtime Haley adviser who labored carefully with Bowers throughout his illustration of the governor, mentioned the lawyer “works hard, has an eye for detail and knows the law.”
Bowers labored for Sanford when state lawmakers mulled impeaching him after revelations Sanford had disappeared from the state, leaving no chain of command for 5 days, to see his lover in Argentina in 2009. The effort by no means made it out of committee.
Ensuing investigations by The Associated Press into Sanford’s different journeys confirmed he had traveled on business airways in high-priced seats regardless of the state’s low-cost journey guidelines and had used state planes for private and political journeys.
At the time, Bowers predicted that the governor could be cleared, saying the costs had been non-criminal and “limited to minor, technical matters.” Sanford went on to pay the biggest ethics superb in state historical past — $74,000 — in addition to practically $37,000 to cowl the prices of the investigation.
Joel Sawyer, Sanford’s longtime spokesman, mentioned Bowers’ strengths lie in his calm demeanor and willpower to look at authorized arguments with out concern for pomp and politics.
“If Donald Trump lets Butch be Butch and doesn’t try to make him be someone he’s not, in terms of making nutty legal arguments and seeking out television cameras, this will be a great fit for Butch,” Sawyer mentioned. “If Trump wants him to be Rudy Giuliani or Sidney Powell 2.0, that’s not going to turn out well for anyone.”
Bowers represented Gov. Henry McMaster — an in depth ally of Trump — in a combat over extreme contributions, a 2016 case that ended with the then-lieutenant governor agreeing to pay greater than $70,000 in fines and reimbursements. Bowers and McMaster, a longtime fixture in South Carolina’s GOP politics, additionally at one time shared workplace area.
Bowers was additionally a lawyer for former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory and the South Carolina Election Commission in litigation over voter ID legal guidelines, in addition to a former South Carolina sheriff who pleaded responsible to embezzlement and misconduct in workplace. In 2018, he was lawyer for University of South Carolina ladies’s basketball coach Dawn Staley in her profitable defamation go well with towards Missouri’s athletics director.
Bowers served as a particular counsel on voting issues on the US Department of Justice below President George W. Bush, was Florida authorized counsel for John McCain’s 2008 presidential marketing campaign and chaired the South Carolina Election Commission from 2004 to 2007. With levels from the University of South Carolina and College of Charleston, Bowers graduated from Tulane University School of Law in 1998.
State Sen. Dick Harpootlian, a former South Carolina Democratic Party chairman and longtime buddy of President Joe Biden who has a number of occasions confronted Bowers in courtroom, mentioned he anticipated the “understated” Bowers — additionally a colonel within the South Carolina Air National Guard — to make selections within the case based mostly not on character, what Harpootlian mentioned was in distinction to Trump’s previous legal professionals.
“Trump won’t be able to make Butch someone that he’s not,” Harpootlian mentioned.
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