- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Senators got their first crack at the impeachment managers Wednesday as they kicked off 16 hours of questions with one on whether a president can have mixed motives for taking official action — and when it becomes a high crime or misdemeanor.

Patrick Philbin, one of the president’s lawyers, said even if President Trump had some personal interest in asking Ukraine to investigate a political opponent, as long as there was some public reason, the impeachment case falls apart.

“If there is something that shows a possible public interest … that destroys their case,” Mr. Philbin said.

He said Democratic impeachment managers would have to prove Mr. Trump had zero public interest in order for senators to convict him of abuse of power, which is one of two articles of impeachment.

Otherwise, he said, senators would end up in a bizarre situation where they would be judging how much of each presidential decision was for personal political motives and how much was a governing interest.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff, the lead impeachment manager, said that’s not true, suggesting even a 1% personal motive would trigger impeachment.

“If any part of the president’s motivation was a corrupt motive … that is enough to convict,” he said. “It would be enough to convict under criminal law.”

He also said the way to figure out Mr. Trump’s motives would be to call witnesses, and particularly former National Security Advisor John Bolton, who reportedly has written a book saying Mr. Trump conditioned Ukraine aid on that country investigating former Vice President Joseph R. Biden.

Senators sat silent during a week of the Democrats making their impeachment case and Mr. Trump’s team rebutting it.

Now senators have 16 hours to ask questions of either side.

Questions are submitted to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who is presiding over the trial and who then reads them.

Both sides rehashed the evidentiary arguments they made over the last week.

But the real battle is over what framework senators should use to evaluate the evidence, with a handful of senators believed to be on the fence.

One of those is Sen. Joe Manchin, West Virginia Democrat.

When Mr. Philbin told senators a mixed-motive case must fail, Mr. Manchin could be seen sitting up in his chair and making a circular motion with his hand — though his meaning wasn’t clear to observers in the chamber.

S.A. Miller contributed to this article.

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