A lawyer for President Trump argued Wednesday that if the commander-in-chief had multiple motives for asking Ukraine to probe Joe Biden it would not matter even if one of them would benefit him politically.
“If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment,” retired Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz told the Senate during the first day of the question-and-answer phase of Trump’s impeachment trial.
“Every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest.”
Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz had asked Trump’s lawyers whether quid-pro-quos were even illegal, and whether they were standard procedure for conducting foreign policy.
Dershowitz replied that if Trump had multiple motives — including one that benefited him politically — it would still be legal.
“Everybody has mixed motives, and for there to be a constitutional impeachment based on mixed motives would permit almost any president to be impeached,” he added, calling it dangerous to “psychoanalyze” Trump to determine his motives.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer then asked House managers about Dershowitz’s arguments that quid-pro-quos are standard operating procedure in foreign policy.
Rep. Adam Schiff said that in every trial, “the question of the defendant’s intention or state of mind is always an issue,” responding to Dershowitz’s argument that Trump should not be psychoanalyzed to determine whether he abused his power.
Schiff also questioned Dershowitz’s belief that all quid pro quos were created equal, asserting that that theory would give a president “carte blanche” to act in their personal political interest rather than the national interest.
“The next president of the United States can ask for an investigation of you. They can ask for help in their next election from any foreign power,” Schiff said.
Senators began the first of two planned days of posing questions to both Trump’s legal team and the House Democrats who have served as prosecutors in the trial on charges of abusing power and obstructing Congress arising from his request that Ukraine investigate political rival Joe Biden.
The questioning began about 1 p.m. and precedes a vote later in the week on whether to call witnesses — including Bolton — as Democrats have sought.
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