Former president Donald Trump’s lead impeachment defense lawyer, former Pennsylvania prosecutor Bruce Castor, was perhaps best known before Tuesday for refusing to prosecute Bill Cosby.
Now, if audience reactions are anything to go by, he’ll also be known for his befuddling defense of the former president as he faces a Senate trial for inciting the Jan. 6 riot in the U.S. Capitol.
“WTF is he talking about???” rapper Ice T tweeted out amid Castor’s bizarre, rambling opening argument. “He musta got this Lawyer off Craig’s List.”
While Ice T’s only experience with law enforcement is his role on Law & Order, actual lawyers also piled on Castor.
“That was perhaps the worst argument that I have ever heard from a lawyer,” Norm Eisen, Democratic counsel for Trump’s first impeachment trial, wrote.
“This is bad legal argument (because it isn’t legal argument) and it’s even worse TV,” attorney and regular Trump critic George Conway wrote.
Even sycophantic pro-Trump network Newsmax cut away from Castor to complain that they “have no idea why he’s saying what he’s saying.”
Castor’s confusing, long-winded defense covered everything from the concept of “state pride” to the fact he doesn’t visit D.C. often and got lost on Tuesday.
“Trump is apparently being represented by the law firm of Meandering & Furious,” Paul Begala, former adviser to President Bill Clinton, wrote.
“I missed The Life of Bruce Castor Jr. on Broadway,” Preet Bharara, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, joked. “Great to watch this one man show being performed for the first time in the US Senate.”
Castor, a former district attorney for Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, heaped praise on senators, calling them “extraordinary” and “gallant” people. He also praised Democrats for presenting such a good case against Trump. Eventually, he made a semblance of an argument that the effort to impeach Trump was a partisan move driven solely by emotion.
“This trial is about trading liberty for the security from the mob? Honestly, no. It can’t be,” he said. “We can’t be thinking about that. We can’t possibly be suggesting that we punish people for political speech in this country.”
Even the ex-president himself might have issues with Castor; he concluded his argument by stating that Trump was “removed by voters,” running contrary to his client’s lie that the election was stolen from him.
Indeed, Trump was at an eight out of 10 on the Trump scale of angriness, one person familiar with his reaction told The New York Times.
After Castor, lawyer David Schoen provided a slightly more cogent argument that the trial is “unconstitutional” because Trump is no longer president. He didn’t address the fact Trump was impeached by the House while in office.
Republican senators were less than impressed. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said that Castor “just rambled on and on and on and didn’t really address the constitutional argument,” according to a pool report.
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) told reporters that the Democratic House managers were “focused” and “organized” and made “a compelling argument” that began with a harrowing video presentation of the violent insurrection. “President Trump’s team, they were disorganized, they did everything they could but to talk about the question at hand,” he said.
Trump’s legal team switched their speaking order after impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) choked up while giving a moving account of losing his son one week before the Capitol riot.
Daniel S. Goldman, staff counsel to Democrats during their 2019 impeachment, said Castor likely spoke first “to try to blunt some of the emotional impact.” But “there was not a ton of substance that he offered, particularly on the issue at hand—the jurisdictional, constitutional issue,” he told MSNBC.
The Senate eventually voted 56 to 44 that the trial is constitutional.
With additional reporting by Rachel Olding