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Columbia lawyer to represent Trump at impeachment trial: 'It'll be interesting to watch'

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Butch Bowers

COLUMBIA — A Columbia lawyer with a long history of representing Republican politicians and interests has become Donald Trump's attorney for the former president's second impeachment trial. 

Butch Bowers, who has represented the past two South Carolina governors at ethics hearings, is no stranger to impeachment proceedings. He worked for then-Gov. Mark Sanford when lawmakers considered impeaching him after he left the state to see his mistress in Argentina in 2009. 

Bowers will aid Trump after he was impeached by the U.S. House in the wake of the U.S. Capitol riot, Jason Miller, a senior Trump adviser, tweeted Thursday. 

"Butch is well respected by both Republicans and Democrats and will do an excellent job defending President Trump," wrote Miller, who also helmed Sanford's gubernatorial and congressional campaigns.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., first announced the news during a Senate Republican conference call, the political site Punchbowl News reported.

"I think will be the sort of the anchor tenant," Graham told a Fox News reporter. "I’ve known Butch for a long time, a solid guy."

Bowers reportedly got the nod because Graham recommended him to Trump before he left office Wednesday. Trump's lawyers from the first impeachment trial declined to work with him again, according to multiple reports.

Bowers, a former chairman of the S.C. Election Commission, turned around in a hallway when he first saw a reporter outside of his downtown Columbia law office soon after the first reports leaked. Then he came outside an hour later and declined comment. 

“I’m just going for a jog,” he said after appearing at the door in running gear.

Miller's confirmation came while Bowers was jogging.

"I would just tell you that everything Jason said in the tweet I agree with, and I look forward to representing the former president,” Bowers said after his run.

Asked if he’d spoken to Trump yet, Bowers said, “That’s all I’ve got to say right now. We’ll talk later.”

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., called Bowers a "smart, capable, competent attorney who has served well in South Carolina and understands election laws about as good as anyone that I know, so it’ll be interesting to watch."

No impeachment hearing has been scheduled in Senate, though Republicans proposed Trump get two weeks to prepare his defense. A conviction could keep Trump from seeking public office again. Trump was acquitted after being impeached in 2019 for abuse of power in trying to get Ukrainian leaders to discredit political foes, particularly President Joe Biden and his son.

Bowers brings with him a wealth of experience in politics.

Bowers represented then-Gov. Nikki Haley in 2012 when she held off ethics charges of illegal lobbying while she was in the S.C. House.

He represented then-Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster in his fight over excessive contributions. McMaster agreed to pay more than $70,000 in fines and reimbursements in 2016. McMaster shared office space with Bowers before he became governor. McMaster is a close Trump ally.

Bowers also aided the S.C. Election Commission and the North Carolina governor in lawsuits over those states' voter ID laws, and the S.C. Republican Party in a lawsuit over not holding a 2020 presidential primary.

He has federal experience as a special counsel on voting matters at the U.S. Department of Justice under President George W. Bush.

"We think the President is in great hands," S.C. GOP Party Chairman Drew McKissick said.

Not all of his clients are political.

Bowers represented Florence County Sheriff Kenneth Boone, who pleaded guilty this month to embezzlement and misconduct charges after prosecutors alleged he used federal narcotics funds to buy bicycle equipment, electronics, coolers, baseball gear and clothes.

He also represented University of South Carolina women's basketball coach Dawn Staley in her defamation suit against University of Missouri Athletic Director Jim Sterk in 2018 that was settled for an apology and $50,000, half of which went to her charity.

David Cloninger contributed to this report.

Follow Andy Shain on Facebook (andyshain12) and Twitter (@andyshain)

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