Rudy Giuliani
Rudy Giuliani (Image: Getty)

Bruce Castor’s opening address to the Senate, on the first day of his client Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, had the quality of an anxiety dream.

As Crikey alum Matthew Knott noted, it’s not coherent enough a speech to easily quote. A big part of what makes it so striking is the rambling, improvised quality to his tone, the stepping from side to side, and the many long pauses to look down at notes that it was hard to believe had been written down at all. It has to be seen to be believed.

The standout line is probably “I don’t want to steal the thunder of the other lawyers but Nebraska, you will hear, is quite a [long pause] judicial [pause] thinking place”.

Many thanks for that illuminating performance, law… talking… guy.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial and get Crikey straight to your inbox

By submitting this form you are agreeing to Crikey's Terms and Conditions.

His performance was so bad he actually changed some Republicans’ minds to vote FOR impeachment. Yep, the party who stuck by Trump after his role in inciting an insurrection found their line: Bruce Castor.

Of course, it’s tough to get good staff at short notice. Castor was among a group of new lawyers hired after most of Trump’s previous legal team abandoned him a week before impeachment.

Another of his new hires, Michael van der Veen, sued Trump last August. Representing independent candidate for the House of Representatives Melvin Johnakin, van der Veen alleged in Federal Court that Trump’s undermining of the US Postal Service and claims of mail-in voter fraud (despite having “no evidence in support of these claim”) would disenfranchise Pennsylvanian voters.

According to The Washington Post:

In Philadelphia, van der Veen is best known for his law firm’s ubiquitous ads on local news radio station KYW-AM, which are reminiscent of East Coast electronics chain Crazy Eddie’s high-octane TV pitches from the 1980s.

The hiring of a longtime personal injury attorney who has previously sued Trump indicates that, like any role in Trump’s employ, it’s a job that experiences a lot of churn.

Here’s a few that didn’t make it this far:

Karl S. ‘Butch’ Bowers Jr

A South Carolina lawyer with the name of a Terry Southern character, Bowers has long been a go-to for state Republicans in similar bother to Trump. He has a reputation as a modest, able and discreet professional.

You can imagine how it went. After eight days, Bowers and four others resigned from Trump’s team, reputedly unwilling to argue in court that the election had been stolen from Trump.

Sidney Powell

Expressing no such qualms was Sidney Powell. Strictly speaking, she was the lawyer to former national security adviser Michael Flynn, but she also pulled a lot of water for Trump. A prolific far-right conspiracist, she was as tireless a spruiker of the theory that voter fraud had cost Donald Trump the US election as you could wish to encounter.

Powell told Fox News in the aftermath of the election that she had evidence of “massive and coordinated” voter fraud. This evidence never materialised.

In lieu of that, Powell took her arguments in a new and exciting direction, saying “communist money” and deceased Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez was behind Biden’s win. The Trump campaign at that point issued a statement saying she was “on her own”, and not a member of the Trump legal team.

Rudy Giuliani

Of course, Trump’s official counsel at the time was a man visibly melting. This followed years of bizarre TV spots on Trump’s behalf (telling CNN “collusion isn’t a crime” and that the president would be well within his rights paying off the women with whom he’s had affairs) not to mention that Borat cameo.

Trump stood by Giuliani through all that but, inevitably, they fell out too. Trump, angry at being impeached for the second time and blaming Giuliani, reportedly told his staff to stop paying Giuliani’s legal fees.

It’s quite the condemnation when Trump actually wants to distance himself from you.