President Trump’s legal team jumped into the fray in the Senate on Tuesday, and their strategy to defend the president is taking shape on national television for all to see. Most obviously, they are not allowing the House Managers to get away with calling the president or them liars.
Who are the members of the team?
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone graduated from the University of Chicago Law School. Cipollone worked for then-Attorney General Barr in 1992-93. He replaced Don McGahn in the Trump administration in 2018.
He is considered the chief strategist in handling the July 25th, 2019 call to Ukraine’s President Zelenskiy, suggesting that the president release the transcript of the call. He wrote a combative letter to the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Jerrold Nadler about the president’s participation in a hearing on December 4th, 2019:
Your letter asked that the President notify the House Committee on the Judiciary (“Judiciary Committee” or
“Committee”) by December 1, 2019, whether the Administration intends to participate in a hearing scheduled for December 4, 2019. You scheduled this initial hearing-no doubt purposely-during the time that you know the President will be out of the country attending the NATO Leaders Meeting in London.
Cipollone displayed the same combativeness in the Senate when responding to Adam Schiff, Jerrold Nadler, and other Democrat House Managers during the debate to establish the rules that will govern the impeachment trial.
Cipollone’s combativeness should be an asset in this impeachment battle as the Democrats like Schiff, Nadler, and Senator Chuck Schumer are relentless in their attacks against the president, the Senate, and the Constitution.
Nadler accused Cipollone of lying, Cipollone responds and then Chief Justice Roberts admonished them.
Deputy Counsel to the president, Patrick Philbin
Patrick Philbin joined the Trump administration in 2019 and assists Cipollone in the legal office of the White House. He also served in the Bush II administration. He clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Philbin attended Yale and earned his law degree at Harvard.
He spoke during the rulemaking debates, and excoriated the House Democrats for not allowing the president to have lawyers present during the impeachment inquiry in the House. He explains why the case should be rejected just because of that.
Jay Sekulow, President Trump’s personal lawyer
Sekulow has been assisting President Trump since the Mueller investigation. He has also been assisting the president in the matter of his financial records, a case that will go to the Supreme court in March.
Sekulow has extensive experience arguing before the Supreme Court, but his primary expertise has been in the area of religious liberty and the first amendment.
Sekulow addresses the issue of the withholding of aid to Ukraine. He pointed out that President Obama had done something similar regarding aid to Egypt.
Former Independent Counsel, Kenneth Starr
Starr has the most experience with impeachment as his investigation and subsequent report of Bill Clinton’s scandals e.g. Whitewater, perjury, and Vince Foster’s suicide led to the impeachment of Clinton in 1998.