Lawyer group: Trump adds ex-prosecutor to impeachment team

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FILE - In this April 29, 2016, file photo, attorney Debbie Barbier speaks to reporters outside the federal courthouse in Charleston, S.C. Barbier had been hired to join Butch Bowers in crafting a defense for former President Donald Trumps unprecedented second impeachment trial, set for the week of Feb. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith, File)

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Donald Trump is adding another South Carolina attorney to his impeachment legal team, according to a trial lawyer group in the state.

In an email sent to South Carolina members of the American College of Trial Lawyers, group chairman Wallace Lightsey wrote that Deborah Barbier — a former federal prosecutor-turned-defense attorney who specializes in white-collar crime — had been hired to join Butch Bowers in crafting a defense for Trump's unprecedented second impeachment trial, set for the week of Feb. 8.

“Regardless of one's personal view of Mr. Trump, it says a great deal about Debbie's skill and reputation as a trial lawyer that she was chosen for this task,” Lightsey wrote in the email, obtained by The Associated Press. “We know you will acquit yourself well (even though some of us may be hoping that your client is not).”

Neither Lightsey nor Barbier returned messages seeking comment late Monday.

In Barbier, Bowers — an ethics and election lawyer picked last week to lead the team — has a co-counsel who spent more than a decade as a federal prosecutor and who now, in private practice, specializes in white-collar defense. Barbier, a graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Law, was an assistant U.S. Attorney in South Carolina for 15 years, working on both criminal and civil cases and ultimately serving as chief of the civil division.

After leaving the office in 2012, Barbier went into private practice. Her clients have included Republican political consultant Richard Quinn, who had at times counted former President Ronald Reagan and Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham among his clients. Conspiracy and illegal lobbying charges in connection with a wide-ranging legislative corruption probe were dropped in 2017 when Quinn’s son, then-state Rep. Rick Quinn, agreed to plead guilty to misconduct in office and resign.

Barbier also in 2016 served as defense attorney for a friend of the man convicted of shooting nine Black parishioners to death at a historic Charleston church. Joey Meek, Barbier's client, was later sentenced to more than two years in prison for telling people not to share the shooter's identity with authorities.

Barbier was hired by South Carolina's state-owned utility company as a federal grand jury probed a multi-billion dollar nuclear project that failed, amid allegations the utility and a co-owner knew the project was doomed and lied to ratepayers.