When Bruce L. Castor Jr. ran for district attorney in Montgomery County, Pa., in 2015, the campaign hinged on his decision years earlier not to charge comedian Bill Cosby with sexual assault. And after Castor lost the race, he sued the woman he blamed for the defeat: one of Cosby’s victims.
His suit, which was dismissed in 2018, made national headlines as the prosecutor who defeated him criminally charged Cosby, eventually sending him to prison.
Now, Castor is poised to represent another politician dismayed over a recent election loss: former president Donald Trump.
Following a sudden exodus of lawyers who had been working on Trump’s defense for his Feb. 9 impeachment trial, the former president on Sunday announced that he’ll be represented by Castor and David Schoen, another attorney with ties to several high-profile, controversial defendants, including Roger Stone and Jeffrey Epstein.
Castor and Schoen will take on the job after Trump’s previous attorneys left over his insistence that they argue he actually won the 2020 presidential election, a false claim the former president has often repeated since November, The Washington Post reported Sunday.
Trump’s team denied that explanation, and said the defense would focus on constitutional questions involved in the impeachment trial. And Schoen also said he plans to focus on attacking the “weaponization of the impeachment process” and arguing that it is not constitutional to impeach a president once he is out of office.
“I am not a person who will put forward a theory of election fraud,” Schoen told The Post late Sunday night. “That’s not what this impeachment trial is about.”
While both lawyers are just stepping into their leading roles on Trump’s team in the politically fraught impeachment trial, neither Castor nor Schoen are new to controversy.
Castor, a Republican, served as the top prosecutor in Montgomery County from 2000 to 2008. In 2005, Andrea Constand reported that Cosby had drugged and sexually assaulted her the previous year, but Castor declined to pursue criminal charges.
Ten years later, after Constand filed suit with 13 women volunteering to testify about their own allegations against Cosby, Castor was forced to account for that decision as he ran for district attorney again. Constand also sued Castor for defamation in 2015, just before the election. He publicly suggested there had been inconsistencies in Constand’s account of the crime, but the growing #MeToo movement made his handling of the Cosby case a key issue in the race. He lost to Democrat Kevin Steele, who chose to prosecute Cosby.
During the criminal case, Cosby’s lawyers argued that Castor had secretly promised the actor immunity in 2005. A judge dismissed that argument. Cosby was convicted on three felony counts and sentenced in 2018 to three to 10 years in prison. Constand and Castor confidentially settled the defamation claim in 2019.
Castor did not immediately return a request for comment late Sunday.
Schoen is an Atlanta-based civil rights and criminal defense attorney who most recently made waves by representing Stone, a Trump confidant who was convicted in 2019 of witness tampering and lying to Congress about his role in pursuing hacked Democratic emails during the 2016 election.
“Somebody recommended me to him and, I don’t know, I liked him,” Schoen told The Post, explaining his decision to take on Stone’s appeal in 2020. “It seemed like a challenge. He was really up against it.”
He previously told the Atlanta Jewish Times that he took up Stone’s case because he believed the trial had been “very unfair and politicized.” Schoen’s work with Stone, whom he has described as “very bright, full of personality and flair,” came to an abrupt end last July when Trump commuted Stone’s 40-month prison sentence. Trump fully pardoned Stone in December.
Days before Jeffrey Epstein’s death in 2019, Schoen also met with the financier, who was accused of sexually abusing dozens of girls. Schoen has publicly disputed official reports that Epstein killed himself inside the Manhattan jail, and maintains his belief that Epstein may have been murdered. Schoen denies subscribing to some of the implausible claims that have circulated online since Epstein’s death and conceded that there were no compelling suspects or alternate theories to the official account.
“He just didn’t strike me as a guy who would commit suicide, but who knows, it’s always possible,” Schoen told The Post on Sunday. “I don’t think they had a medical basis [for the cause of death] but they also don’t have a killer.”
Schoen described his “bread-and-butter” work as civil rights cases, with a focus on police misconduct, which he has pursued for nearly 36 years. His recent caseload has included a wrongful death and police misconduct suit for the fatal police shooting of a Black man in Florida and a wrongful death and medical malpractice suit against officials in an Alabama jail who ignored an inmate’s perforated ulcer for seven days, leading to his death.
With just over a week before Trump’s impeachment trail is set to begin, Schoen and Castor do not have much time to prepare a defense for the former president. Schoen told The Post he expects to focus on the “important constitutional issues,” including whether a former president can legally be tried for impeachment.
“I’ve done constitutional litigation my entire career, and I think this case raised important constitutional questions,” Schoen told The Post. “I do feel honored to represent the [former] president of the United States and the Constitution.”
Schoen said he did not think the lawyers who left Trump’s team did so because of election fraud claims and rejected the suggestion that the new team would try to litigate the validity of the election results.
“It’s not what has drawn me into this impeachment trial,” he said. “I think the proceedings are unconstitutional.”