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Trump’s legal team got him acquitted, but clashed behind the scenes.


Last Wednesday afternoon, when former President Donald J. Trump’s legal team gathered in a conference room in a special suite at the Trump hotel in Washington, a longtime adviser to Mr. Trump, Justin Clark, had an announcement to make.

Mr. Clark told one of the lawyers, Bruce L. Castor Jr., that after his widely panned performance a day earlier, Mr. Trump did not want him appearing on television any more during the impeachment trial.

Mr. Castor rose from his chair, and began angrily shouting at Mr. Clark, arguing that Mr. Trump was wrong to demote him. The back and forth became so heated that Mr. Castor left the conference room in a huff.

He later apologized to Mr. Clark. But the tense exchange was just one example of how Mr. Trump’s hastily assembled legal team — a mash-up of political hands, a personal-injury lawyer, a former prosecutor and a longtime defense lawyer, most of whom did not particularly like or trust one another — clashed, stumbled and regrouped throughout the impeachment proceeding under the watchful and sometimes wrathful eye of its client.

The result was an airplane held together with duct tape as it tried to land.

“You have to remember that we had literally one week and one day to prepare the defense and we were all people who never had met each other before,” one of the lawyers, David I. Schoen, said in a statement.

The lawyers that Mr. Trump assembled to represent him prevailed at the trial. But it wasn’t pretty, according to interviews with a half-dozen members of the legal team and others involved in the process.

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