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GOP senators slam Trump impeachment lawyer Bruce Castor’s ‘disorganized’ opening arguments


Bruce Castor and David Schoen

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A number of Republican Senators had less-than-stellar reviews for former President Donald Trump’s defense lawyers Bruce Castor Jr. and David Schoen after the first day of his second impeachment trial in the Senate.

After hearing arguments from the House impeachment managers and Trump’s defense on Tuesday, the Senate voted 56-44 to agree that Trump’s second impeachment trial was constitutional, allowing the trial to proceed forward.

Six Republicans joined all 50 Senate Democrats in voting that an impeachment trial of a former president is constitutional. 

Read more: How Trump’s Senate trial could end with a vote to ban him from ever holding federal office again and kill any chances of a 2024 run

But many Republican Senators, along with scores with pundits and social media commentators, had some harsh criticism for Castor’s almost hour-long meandering initial presentation on the constitutionality of Trump’s impeachment. 

Castor’s speech jumped around from reminiscing about his parents playing Everett Dirksen’s speeches on vinyl when he was a child to extolling the virtues of the US Senate, giving shoutouts to Sens. Pat Toomey and Ben Sasse, and making a number of long-winded historical comparisons and analogies. 

Castor, for his part, told USA Today’s Christal Hayes that he “thought we a had good day.” 

Here’s how some GOP Senators reacted to Castor’s performance, according to the Capitol Hill press pool: 

Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana 

“I always said, I would be an impartial juror,” Cassidy told reporters. “Anyone that listened to those arguments would recognize that the house managers are, focused, organized, they relied both upon precedent, the constitution, and legal scholars. They made a compelling argument.”

Cassidy was the only Republican Senator who switched his vote to side with Democrats in agreeing that the impeachment of a former president is constitutional after previously voting the opposite way on a similar resolution brought by Sen. Rand Paul. 

“President 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 it, almost as if they were embarrassed of their arguments,” Cassidy continued. “Now if I’m an impartial juror, and one side is doing a great job, and the other side is doing a terrible job, on the issue at hand, as an impartial juror, I’m going to vote for the side that did the good job.”

Lisa Murkowski

Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska 

“I was really stunned at the first attorney who presented for former President Trump,” Murkowski told PBS NewsHour correspondent Lisa Desjardins. “I couldn’t figure out where he was going, spent 45 minutes going somewhere, but I don’t think he helped with us better understanding where he was coming from on the constitutionality of this. And I felt that Mr. Schoen did a better job, but I think they sure had a missed opportunity with their first attorney there.”

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine 

“I thought the second lawyer was, made the arguments very well. I was perplexed by the first attorney, who did not seem to make any arguments at all, which was an unusual approach to take,” Collins told CNN’s Ted Barrett, adding that Castor making references to Toomey and Sasse was “inappropriate.”

Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania 

“I don’t think it was — well, I think they had a weaker case to start with, and I don’t think it was very persuasive,” Toomey told The New York Times’ Emily Cochrane, declining to elaborate further. 

lindsey graham

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina

“I thought I knew where he was going, and I really didn’t know where it was going,” Graham told reporters of Castor’s presentation. 

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas

When asked by The Washington Post’s Kauron Demirjian what he thought of Castor, Cruz paused for about six seconds before saying, “I don’t think the lawyers did the most effective job.”

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Sen. John Cornyn of Texas 

“I thought the President’s lawyer, the first lawyer just rambled on and on and on and didn’t really address the constitutional argument,” Cornyn told NBC’s Julie Tsirkin. “Finally the second lawyer got around to it. And I thought, did an effective job, but I’ve seen a lot of lawyers and a lot of arguments and that was it was not one of the finest I’ve seen.”

Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa:

Ernst told Politico’s Burgess Everett that Schoen “did a beautiful job laying out the constitutionality” argument, but said that Castor, “spent too much time there visiting” Toomey and Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. 

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