President Donald Trump picked some of the most controversial and polarizing legal experts for his Senate trial, apparently to attract attention and not deflect it, according to former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara.
"I thought that he would pick quiet, less controversial lawyers to defend him in the Senate, and he would have his serious lawyers in the Senate who maybe are not so controversial, and also have his controversial folks on television was the best of both worlds for him," Bharara, who served in the Southern District of New York during the Obama administration, told CNN's "The Lead" on Friday.
Legal scholar Alan Dershowitz, who argued against the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton and veterans of Clinton's impeachment efforts, Ken Starr and Robert Ray, who wanted to impeach, remove, and indict Clinton, were among Trump's legal team selections.
"So, I think he's looking to increase ratings for the trial, when it would seem his best approach to this might have been quiet, deliberative kinds of lawyers, who would make a case based on the law and the facts and wouldn't draw attention to themselves," Bharara added to host Jake Tapper.
"He has actually, in this way, not speaking in the legal dimension, increased viewership of the upcoming impeachment trial."
Trump is facing impeachment and removal on two articles, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, but in a process that has been partisan and politicized, Bharara said Trump's picks evoke strong feelings for his base and potentially senators who are undecided on his culpability – if not ultimately get them to "tune out" their legal viewpoints.
"It seems to me, the president, as with all sorts of other issues, is not trying to dissuade people who are undecided, or who are against him, to his side, but just playing to the base," Bharara, an Obama supporter and frequent Trump antagonist who was abruptly removed from his U.S. attorney post by Trump when he took office, told Tapper.
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