As President Trump heads for a campaign rally in Wisconsin, his defense team makes final preparations to present its case to the Senate; chief White House correspondent John Roberts reports.
President Trump has locked down the defense team that will be representing him during his impeachment trial, as House Democrats move Wednesday to send the articles of impeachment against him to the Senate.
The four-person legal team is made up of several top White House attorneys, with an administration official telling Fox News that other lawyers could cycle through or be on the floor in a support capacity during the Senate trial.
Here are the four main attorneys that will make up Trump’s defense team:
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone exits the U.S. Capitol after meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in December. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Cipollone, the White House counsel, will take the helm in commanding Trump’s defense. He was named to the post in October 2018 but has known the president for years. He represented Trump during his tenure as a partner at the law firm Kirkland & Ellis and helped Trump prepare for the 2016 presidential debates.
Despite joining the administration in 2018, Cipollone is no stranger to government work – having worked at the Justice Department under Attorney General William Barr during George H.W. Bush’s administration.
Cipollone has also played a key role in defending Trump during the House’s impeachment inquiry that centered on the president’s July phone call with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky. During the call, Trump urged Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s business dealings in the eastern European nation.
As White House counsel, Cipollone advised Trump to release the memo of the call July phone call with Zelensky and he also penned an eight-page note to House Democrats asserting that the White House would not cooperate with the congressional impeachment inquiry.
His advice to Trump fits with Cipplone’s beliefs in executive privilege and that the president can shield witnesses and documents from Congress.
Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow was heavily involved in his defense during former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)
The second-in-command of the president’s defense, Sekulow has worked as the coordinator of Trump’s personal legal team and was heavily involved in his defense during former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Sekulow has had a high-profile and colorful career as a litigator – serving as chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice and also hosting his own syndicated radio show, “Jay Sekulow Live.” Focusing much of his work on protecting religious and constitutional freedoms, Sekulow has argued 12 cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Michael Purpura, who will serve as one of the two deputies on Trump’s defense team, has worked in the White House Counsel’s office since January 2019. (Leadership Connect)
Purpura, who will serve as one of the two deputies on Trump’s defense team, has worked in the White House Counsel’s office since January 2019.
A graduate of West Point and Columbia Law School, Purpura has a long history of working for Republican presidential administrations. He worked in the White House Counsel’s office during George W. Bush’s presidency – where he was part of the team responding to congressional investigations – and was the senior counsel to the deputy attorney general during that administration.
Along with his time in the White House, Purpura also worked in the U.S. attorney’s office in both the District of Hawaii and the Southern District of New York.
Patrick Philbin worked at the Justice Department during the Bush administration where he handled cases relating to counterterrorism and espionage during the height of the war on terror. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Rounding off Trump’s defense team will be Philbin, who has close ties to both Cipollone and the George W. Bush administration.
The Harvard Law School graduate, who serves as deputy White House counsel, was also a partner at Kirkland & Ellis and worked as an associate deputy attorney general during the Bush administration from 2003 to 2005.
Philbin handled cases relating to counterterrorism and espionage during the height of the war on terror. One of his tasks was handling applications for electronic surveillance under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
He is most widely known for working with then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey in preventing Attorney General John Ashcroft from signing off on a controversial warrantless wiretap program.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman and Matthew Borowski contributed to this report.