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GOP Senator: Trump's Lawyers Did A 'Terrible Job' On 1st Day Of Trial

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., on Tuesday voted to move forward with the Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.
Greg Nash
Pool/AFP via Getty Images
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., on Tuesday voted to move forward with the Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.

Sen. Bill Cassidy on Tuesday said former President Donald Trump's legal team did a "terrible job" defending Trump when arguing against the constitutionality of moving forward with a Senate impeachment trial. The Louisiana Republican broke with most of his party in voting to proceed with Trump's historic second impeachment trial.

"President Trump's team were 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, almost as if they were embarrassed," Cassidy said, noting that the House impeachment managers had presented a clear, constitutionally grounded argument to move forward with impeachment.

"One side's doing a great job. And the other side's doing a terrible job on the issue at hand."

Cassidy's vote surprised onlookers. He had previously voted that an impeachment trial would be unconstitutional because Trump is no longer in office.

Cassidy joined fellow Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Mitt Romney of Utah and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania in voting with Democrats on the matter.

The Senate on Tuesday heard arguments on the constitutionality of trying a former president. Trump was impeached by the House last month on a charge of inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Opening arguments in his Senate trial will begin Wednesday afternoon.

Cassidy's criticism of Trump's legal team echoed that of several additional Republicans who found the former president's representation — particularly that of attorney Bruce Castor — lacking in polish and reason.

"The president's lawyer, the first lawyer, just rambled on and on and on and didn't really address the constitutional argument," Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said following the hearing.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said he did not think Trump's representation "did the most effective job."

Both Republicans still voted against proceeding with the trial.

Despite the scathing criticisms of his performance, Castor, the attorney, said he thought it was a "good day" and said he did not anticipate he would make any strategic changes going forward.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Alana Wise joined WAMU in September 2018 as the 2018-2020 Audion Reporting Fellow for Guns & America. Selected as one of 10 recipients nationwide of the Audion Reporting Fellowship, Alana works in the WAMU newsroom as part of a national reporting project and is spending two years focusing on the impact of guns in the Washington region.
Alana Wise
Alana Wise is a politics reporter on the Washington desk at NPR.