Trump team hires 2 ex-prosecutors with ethics experience

In this image from video, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the president pro tempore of the Senate, who is presiding over the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, swears in members of the Senate for the impeachment trial at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (Senate Television via AP) (Uncredited, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Donald Trump has added two more former federal prosecutors from South Carolina to his impeachment legal team, according to one of the lawyers.

“It is confirmed,” Greg Harris, an attorney in the capital city of Columbia, told The Associated Press on Thursday when asked if he and former acting U.S. Attorney Johnny Gasser had been added to the team that will craft a defense for Trump's unprecedented second impeachment trial, set for the week of Feb. 8.

Harris is a former county and federal prosecutor with expertise in white-collar cases. He's currently in private practice with Gasser, who has also been a prosecutor at the local and federal levels, serving as South Carolina's acting U.S. Attorney for more than a year. He went into private practice with Harris.

Both attorneys have experience in public corruption cases, with both representing Republican state Rep. Rick Quinn on charges of misconduct in office. Quinn ultimately resigned in a 2017 deal that resulted in the termination of conspiracy and illegal lobbying charges against his father, GOP consultant Richard Quinn — who had at times counted former President Ronald Reagan and Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham among his clients.

They also both represented South Carolina Lt. Gov. Ken Ard, who resigned in 2012 after pleading guilty to ethics violations.

Harris and Gasser join a team that includes Butch Bowers, a noted South Carolina ethics and elections lawyer called an “anchor tenant” of the team by U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

It's in part on the advice of Graham that Trump is turning to the South Carolina team after other legal allies passed on the case. It’s a notable departure from his 2020 impeachment trial, when Trump had a stable of nationally known attorneys, including Alan Dershowitz, Jay Sekulow and Kenneth Starr.

Bowers has years of experience representing elected officials and political candidates, including former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford. Bowers represented Sanford when state lawmakers mulled impeaching the governor after revelations Sanford had disappeared from the state, leaving no chain of command for five days, to see his lover in Argentina in 2009. The impeachment effort never made it out of committee.

Bowers also successfully guided another former governor, Nikki Haley, through an investigation into whether she had violated state ethics law.

Another Trump hire, Deborah Barbier, spent more than a decade as a federal prosecutor and now, in private practice, specializes in white-collar defense. She also represented Richard Quinn in his illegal lobbying case.

The House officially transmitted the article of impeachment — accusing Trump of inciting the mob that rampaged through the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 — to the Senate on Monday. The trial could have officially begun Tuesday, but Republicans pushed to delay it to give Trump a chance to organize his legal team and prepare a defense.

If convicted, Trump could be barred from holding public office again, ending any hopes of mounting another White House bid in 2024.


Meg Kinnard can be reached at