Trump begins talking with impeachment lawyer, at the same time as he scrambles to construct protection group

Bowers – a well-respected lawyer from Columbia, South Carolina who once worked in the Justice Department under President George W. Bush – has spoken to Trump for the past few days, according to two people familiar with the matter. Bowers was linked to Trump by Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, who is also helping to add new lawyers to the team.

Charlie Condon, a former South Carolina attorney general who now works in a private practice in Charleston, has been approached about joining the legal team, two people familiar with the matter said. In a brief statement to CNN on Monday evening, Condon wrote: “I am not representing former President Trump. Thank you.”

A former president spokesman declined to comment on additions to Trump’s legal team.

But just two weeks before the trial begins, Trump is still trying to find other lawyers to join his team, according to people familiar with the matter. Some law firms have raised questions about whether they would get paid and other layers have expressed reluctance to join the deadly January 6th Uprising in the U.S. Capitol.

News of Trump’s battles for the legal profession comes on the same day that the House’s impeachment executives officially launched the former president’s second impeachment trial. They went across the Capitol on Monday night and read the Senate indictments against him, the first president in history to be tried twice.

The contours of Trump’s Senate process take shape as the ceremonial elements begin. The Senate’s longest-serving Democrat is expected to preside over the trial, and Democrats are still debating whether to prosecute witnesses during a trial that could take part in February.

When asked if he believes Trump’s defense team is trying to call witnesses, Graham, a close ally of Trump, said he did not know, adding, “I can’t imagine who you would call,” noting that House had no one to testify in their impeachment proceedings.

The Republican from South Carolina called for the trial to be rejected because of “constitutional incompetence”.

Graham said he spoke to Trump on Sunday while the former president was playing golf in Florida.

When asked about Trump’s mindset and preparation for his second impeachment trial, Graham said, “Well, I think he’d like to get it over with.” He said he “didn’t think” that Trump would come back from Florida for the trial and reiterated his desire for a speedy trial.

The exact timeline of the trial itself, which will begin the week of February 8th, is also unknown, but several impeachment managers have stated that they don’t believe it will last as long as the 21 days of Trump’s trial in 2020 The expectation, however, is still that it will take up much of February and be completed by the end of the month, if not earlier.

The second impeachment is also expected to differ from the first in another important respect. Chief Justice John Roberts will not preside, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Instead, the Democratic Senator from Vermont, Patrick Leahy, the President of the Senate, will preside, according to sources. The constitution says that the chief judge will preside if the person on trial is the current President of the United States while senators preside over other cases, a source said.

CNN’s Caroline Kelly and Jeremy Herb contributed to this report.

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