Speed Reads

Trump impeachment trial

Schiff pounces on Trump lawyer who seemingly admits investigations in Ukraine weren't 'foreign policy'

President Trump's impeachment lawyers just told on themselves.

That's what Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) argued after Trump's legal team said Rudy Giuliani wasn't conducting any "foreign policy" in Ukraine. After a bipartisan group of senators asked in Trump's impeachment trial if he could promise "that private citizens will not be directed to conduct foreign policy unless formally designated by the president and the State Department," the defense rejected the entire premise.

"I want to make clear that there was no conduct of foreign policy being carried out here by a private person," said Trump lawyer Patrick Philbin. That "private person" is in reference to Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer (who is not a government employee) who represented him in Ukraine as he allegedly pushed for investigations into Trump's political rivals. In Trump's phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump instructed his Ukrainian counterpart to "speak to" Giuliani and repeatedly said he'd have Giuliani call to help "get to the bottom" of it all.

Schiff pounced on the opportunity to point out what he called a "breathtaking admission" by Trump's defense. As Schiff put it, Philbin's insistence that no such promise from Trump was even needed actually proved a point argued by Democrats — that Trump and Giuliani weren't conducting foreign policy in their quest for investigations in Ukraine, but a "domestic political errand" meant to boost Trump's re-election odds. Schiff called it "startling" that Philbin would seemingly admit there was no public interest at heart in the first place. Watch the moment below. Summer Meza