Trump spends first night as a private citizen 'looking for lawyers for his impeachment trial'

Josie Ensor
·4 min read
Outgoing US President Donald Trump waves after landing at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Florida - AFP
Outgoing US President Donald Trump waves after landing at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Florida - AFP

Donald Trump spent his first hours as a private citizen scrambling to find lawyers to represent him in his upcoming impeachment trial, as he settled into his new home at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

One of Mr Trump’s first calls after leaving office was to Lindsey Graham, South Carolina senator and staunch ally, telling him he was now “looking for some lawyers” for the imminent Senate hearing.

"[Trump] said, 'I really don't know the lay of the land here,' and he's looking for some lawyers," Mr Graham told Punchbowl News. "I'm trying to help him there, and he's just trying to put together a team."

Mr Trump will not be drawing on his usual litigators: Rudy Giuliani, his longtime personal lawyer, is likely to step aside as he could be called as a witness, while attorneys who represented him at the first impeachment hearing have declined.

Supporters of Donald Trump gather along the route of his motorcade on Southern Boulevard as he arrives in Florida - AFP
Supporters of Donald Trump gather along the route of his motorcade on Southern Boulevard as he arrives in Florida - AFP

Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker, has yet to send the article of impeachment to the Senate. According to Senate rules, the Republican former president’s trial would start the day after the charge is sent over.

A trial, would could last as little as three days, would determine whether the president is guilty of, per the article of impeachment, “willfully [making] statements to the crowd that encouraged and foreseeably resulted in lawless action at the Capitol” on Jan. 6.

A short trial would also allow the Senate, now controlled by Democrats, to focus on President Joe Biden's legislative agenda and confirming his cabinet nominees.

In any case, Republicans do not believe there are 16 votes to convict the former president - the number of senators needed to join Democrats.

If indicted, however, Mr Trump will face a ban on ever holding office again.

In his final days in office, Mr Trump told confidants that he was still weighing making another run for the White House.

Tiffany Trump with her finance, Michael Boulos, top, and Eric Trump and his wife Lara Trump and Donald Trump Jr., and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, bottom right, arrive at Palm Beach International Airport  - AP
Tiffany Trump with her finance, Michael Boulos, top, and Eric Trump and his wife Lara Trump and Donald Trump Jr., and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, bottom right, arrive at Palm Beach International Airport - AP

He purportedly has plans to form a party, known as the Patriot Party. Meanwhile, Mr Graham, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, said he believed Mr Trump will remain the “strongest voice in Republican Party for years.”

Mr Trump will of course no longer have access to White House aides who will now be working under the new administration, but he will still enjoy protection from the US Secret Service.

Before leaving office former President Trump ensured that his extended family would receive protection for the next six months, according to reports.

After receiving a lukewarm send-off at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Wednesday, Mr Trump was greeted upon his arrival in Palm Beach by supporters waving “Trump 2020” flags and signs reading “welcome home!”Some appeared to still be refusing to accept the results of the election.

Palm Beach will become Donald Trump's new home - AP
Palm Beach will become Donald Trump's new home - AP

Mr Trump was said to have been surrounded by family on his first night back in Florida, where he has spent considerable time over the last few decades. He was joined by his eldest son Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, his other son Eric and his wife Lara.

Notably absent were daughter Ivanka and husband Jared Kushner, who were not on the Air Force One flight from DC. It was not immediately clear where the family would spend the coming days and weeks, but the couple has purchased a plot of land near Palm Beach to be closer to the former president.

“Isolated and shunned at the end,” tweeted Maggie Haberman, who has been covering the Trump presidency for the NYT for the last four years. “The former president will be waking up to a very different reality at Mar-a-Lago, with no extensive government-funded staff, no aide following him with a diet coke, and no guarantee people will return his calls.”

There does, however, remain a few loyal lieutenants who continue to stand by him.

Jenna Ellis, the attorney who represented Mr Trump in a number of his election lawsuits, responded to Ns Haberman by saying: “He is neither isolated nor shunned. The beltway isn’t all of America. America by and large loves Donald Trump.”