WASHINGTON—Most of the cross-examination of witnesses during the House impeachment hearings will be done by two men—Daniel S. Goldman for the Democrats and Stephen R. Castor for the Republicans—who could hardly be more different in their backgrounds and professional careers.
Goldman is a product of the Eastern liberal elite, having attended Sidwell Friends School in the nation’s capital, then going on to Yale for his undergraduate work and earning a law degree from Stanford. He is an intensely fervent anti-Trumper.
His father was also a federal prosecutor but died when Goldman was a young man. Goldman’s great grandmother was a Levi Strauss heiress, and his mother, Susan Sachs, was chairwoman of Sidwell Friends for many years.
Goldman spent a decade as a federal prosecutor in the fabled Southern District of New York (SDNY), where he became something of a legal celebrity known for handling high-profile cases, especially when they involved mobsters and Russians.
“His pedigree fit the mission that [House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam] Schiff laid out: Goldman had spent 10 years as a federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, where he prosecuted organized-crime syndicates—including some linked to Russians—for a variety of crimes,” according to the Daily Beast.
“His work at SDNY was often headline-grabbing: He was the lead prosecutor of the famous gambler Billy Walters, who was convicted and sentenced to five years in jail for an insider-trading scheme in 2017. Goldman also helped lead the prosecution of the former boss of the La Cosa Nostra crime family on murder and extortion charges, putting him behind bars for life,” the Daily Beast reported.
Goldman’s public profile took a major leap upward in 2017 when he left the federal courts to become an on-air legal analyst for MSNBC, where he joined a hotbed of Trump resisters.
He acquired a huge Twitter following in the process, now numbering in excess of 76,000. One message he might now wish he had deleted went out last year in response to a Trump tweet condemning the “Fake Dossier and all of the lying that went on in the FBI and DOJ … ”
Goldman responded, saying, “What lying? Nothing in the dossier has proved to be false (including your pee tape). But we can agree that we all look forward to the facts coming out. Everything that has come out so far has shown you to be an out and out liar (eg Cohen tape, purpose of June 9 meeting, etc).”
Another tweet Goldman may regret came Dec. 29, 2018, when he said, “The way Giuliani/Trump act leads me to believe Mueller has so much more than we realize.”
A few months later, then-special counsel Robert Mueller announced that he found no evidence that any American colluded with Russians on the 2016 election.
While Democrat Goldman reveled in the spotlight afforded by being a federal prosecutor and a highly opinionated television talking head, Republican counsel Stephen Castor has labored mostly in obscurity.
Castor grew up in a prosperous small suburb north of Philadelphia, and to this day, lists the blue-collar Phillies as his sole hobby. He went to Penn State, a land-grant state school, for his undergraduate degree, then earned a law degree at George Washington University (GWU) in Washington.
After brief stints at AT&T and Blank Rome LLP, it was a short step from GWU to Capitol Hill, where Castor joined the Republican staff of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in 2005.
Castor then did something quite unusual for lawyers working in Congress, putting his head down and demonstrating in the next 14 years an unflagging attention to key details and working equally long and hard for a succession of ideologically disparate Republican chairmen and ranking minority members.
The succession began with Rep. Tom Davis, a moderate Republican from Virginia’s federal bureaucrat-heavy northern suburbs, and continued under Rep. Darrell Issa, a combative Californian, Jason Chaffetz, the conservative Utah Mormon, Trey Growdy, the lawyers’ lawyer from South Carolina, and House Freedom Caucus firebrand, Jim Jordan of Ohio.
Castor won rave reviews from his bosses, but his name was hardly known outside of the committee’s cramped offices in the Rayburn House Office Building.
Along the way, Castor was a staff anchor for committee Republicans during the Obama years, including during the investigations of the Fast & Furious scandal, the IRS Tea Party scandal, and the Benghazi controversy.
Castor served most of his time under Issa, who retired in 2018 but is now seeking to return to the House, and who has nothing but praise for his former committee counsel.
“He’s a very dedicated institutionalist,” Issa told the Daily Beast. “He’s one of those people you see on the Hill that you know he could have left a long time ago and made a lot of money in any number of places.”
Castor’s low profile can be misleading. He was known as the “GOP’s Get Obama” lawyer before Donald Trump came along.
Contact Mark Tapscott at firstname.lastname@example.org