Four senators seen as swing votes on President Trump’s impeachment asked the president’s lawyers Thursday if they could guarantee he would not use private Americans to conduct foreign policy.
The question, submitted by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema on behalf of herself and fellow Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, and GOP Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, said the Logan Act prohibits private citizens from attempting to do foreign diplomacy
“The president’s policy is always to abide by the laws, and to continue to do so,” assured Patrick Philbin, deputy White House counsel.
He added, though, that many presidents have turned to private individuals to be go-betweens with foreign nations.
The question presumably was aimed at Rudolph W. Giuliani, one of the president’s lawyers and advisers, who has pushed a theory that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 U.S. election.
Mr. Giuliani’s role in Mr. Trump’s circle of advisers has troubled Democrats and some Republicans.
The four senators who asked the question are all seen as potential swing votes on whether to convict Mr. Trump of the two articles of impeachment lodged against him.
Mr. Philbin said Mr. Giuliani was not conducting U.S. foreign policy in his actions in Ukraine.
Rep. Adam Schiff, Democrats’ impeachment maestro, said that was a “startling admission,” because it meant Mr. Giuliani was on “a personal political errand” to gather dirt on former Vice President Joseph R. Biden.