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Trump turns to the ethics counsel for his defence, Trial Ahead,

Butch Bowers is used in ethics lawsuits to protect elected officials. But nothing quite like this has ever faced him. It is up to Donald Trump to rise up and defend Bowers, a South Carolina election and ethics lawyer, as the Senate soon plunges into an impeachment trial unlike any other, centred on

Butch Bowers

Butch Bowers

Butch Bowers is used in ethics lawsuits to protect elected officials. But nothing quite like this has ever faced him.

It is up to Donald Trump to rise up and defend Bowers, a South Carolina election and ethics lawyer, as the Senate soon plunges into an impeachment trial unlike any other, centred on allegations that the former president incited the mob that rampaged through the U.S. On Jan. 6 at the Capitol. The stakes are immense for Trump, the first president twice impeached: if convicted, he may be barred from ever holding public office, ending any chances of mounting another bid for the White House in 2024.

After other legal allies passed on the case, Trump turned to Bowers, a familiar figure in Republican legal circles. That’s a dramatic departure from his first impeachment trial in 2020, when he was standing in his corner with a stable of influential lawyers, including Alan Dershowitz, Jay Sekulow, who represented him in the Russia investigation, and Kenneth Starr.

The first impeachment trial turned on allegations that Trump had illegally sought assistance from Ukraine for his reelection campaign. He was cleared by the Senate of those charges. The new trial could depend on broader legal issues, including “whether the Constitution even allows the Senate to take post-impeachment action,” said Sekulow, who is not involved in Trump’s legal defence.

Sekulow said he did not expect Bowers, who has years of experience defending elected officials and political candidates, including former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, to be hampered by never having defended a current or former president in a Senate trial against a failed impeachment attempt that morphed into an ethics investigation.

Sekulow said Friday, “He’s an excellent lawyer with a tremendous reputation who understands the law and politics.”

Bowers was suggested to Trump by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and told Fox News he sees him as Trump’s team’s “anchor tenant.” Jason Miller, Trump’s strategist, who also ran Sanford’s government and congressional campaigns, said Bowers “will do an outstanding job defending President Trump.”

A message seeking comment was not responded to by Bowers.

His plan for Trump’s defence is vague, but a simple choice is to challenge the legitimacy of the trial. Many Senate Republicans, the jurors he would have to convince, have indicated they have reservations about whether an impeachment trial for an ex-official is constitutional, even though it has happened before.

Meanwhile, the nine House managers investigating the case would almost certainly concentrate on linking Trump’s comments to supporters at a rally before the riot to the violence that soon followed, including urging them to “fight like hell.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will forward the impeachment article to the Senate on Monday, triggering the trial’s first step.

Opening arguments will start on Feb. 8, the week. On Friday evening, after reaching an agreement with Republicans who had pushed to delay the proceedings, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer revealed the timeline to give Trump a chance to assemble his legal team and plan a defence.

While maybe nothing compares to the legal and political swirl of a Senate impeachment hearing, both in Washington and in guiding elected officials through the fray, Bowers has experience.

He worked as a lawyer for Sanford and another former governor, Nikki Haley, leading her through an inquiry into whether she had broken the law of state ethics.

Ultimately, an ethics commission cleared Haley. The lawyer “works hard, has an eye for detail and knows the law,” said Rob Godfrey, a former Haley advisor who partnered closely with Bowers during his representation of the governor.

Bowers worked for Sanford when, following revelations that Sanford had vanished from the state, state lawmakers considered impeaching him, leaving no chain of command for five days, to visit his lover in Argentina in 2009. The attempt never made it out of committee.

The Associated Press inquiries into the other trips to Sanford found that despite the low-cost travel laws of the state, he had flown on commercial airlines in high-priced seats and had used state aircraft for personal and political trips.

At the time, Bowers stated that the governor would be acquitted, arguing that the allegations were non-criminal and “limited to minor, technical matters.” Sanford continued to pay the highest fine of ethics in state history, $74,000, as well as almost $37,000 to cover the investigation’s costs.

Joel Sawyer, the long-time spokesperson for Sanford, said the strengths of Bowers lie in his cool nature and ability to investigate legal arguments without thinking about pomp and politics.

“If Donald Trump lets Butch be Butch and doesn’t try to make him someone he’s not, it’s going to be a great fit for Butch in terms of making nutty legal arguments and searching for television cameras,” Sawyer said. “If Trump wants him to be Rudy Giuliani or Sidney Powell 2.0, it won’t be good for anybody.”

In a battle over excessive donations, a 2016 lawsuit that ended with the then-lieutenant governor having to pay more than $70,000 in fines and reimbursements, Bowers represented Gov. Henry McMaster, a loyal Trump ally. Bowers and McMaster, a lifelong fixture of GOP politics in South Carolina, both shared office space at one point.

As well as a former South Carolina sheriff who pleaded guilty to embezzlement and corruption in office, Bowers was also a prosecutor for former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory and the South Carolina Election Commission in lawsuits over voter ID rules. In 2018, in her successful defamation suit against Missouri’s athletics director, he was a counsel for University of South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley.

Bowers worked as a special advocate in the United States on voting issues. Under President George W. Bush, the Department of Justice was Florida’s legal counsel for the 2008 presidential campaign of John McCain, and chaired the South Carolina Election Commission from 2004 to 2007. Bowers graduated from Tulane University School of Law in 1998 with degrees from the University of South Carolina and the College of Charleston.

State Sen. Dick Harpootlian, a former South Carolina Democratic Party president and long-time associate of President Joe Biden, who has faced Bowers in court many times, said he expected the “understated” Bowers, also a South Carolina Air National Guard colonel, to make decisions not based on personality in the case, which Harpootlian said was in contrast to Trump’s previous attorneys.

“Harpootlian said, “Trump would not be able to make Butch someone that he is not.